Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An argument against the sale of Ohio Turnpike

Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown drafted, and his colleagues joined him in signing, a letter to Governor John Kasich and the Ohio Legislature opposing the sale of the Ohio Turnpike. Below is a fact sheet he asked me to share with you which details some of the reasons for his position. You are free to use the information if you want to contact your particular representatives with your thoughts on the matter.

(As an aside, I've not taken a position on the sale or lease of the turnpike.)

NO Robin Hood approach to the Turnpike: Northern Ohioans do not want our Turnpike sold to funnel proceeds to other areas of the state or private businesses!

In 1949, the Ohio Legislature authorized creation of the Ohio Turnpike Commission. To fund the new superhighway, the Turnpike Commission issued $326 million in revenue bonds (not the State of Ohio) to build the Ohio Turnpike. In fact no State General Revenue Funds have ever been appropriated by the State of Ohio to support the Ohio Turnpike. The tolls, profits from concessions and other items sold in Turnpike shops have been the source of income to pay off the project as well as enhancements and lane expansions over the years. It is clear the Ohio Turnpike is not an asset of the State of Ohio, but is an asset bought and paid for by Northern Ohioans and other users of this Northern Ohio highway. Throughout its existence the Turnpike has been superbly maintained by self-generated income, at no cost to either state or federal budgets. The Ohio Turnpike is a tremendous asset – but it IS NOT an asset of the State of Ohio to be leased or sold so that the profits can be funneled to private business interests or other areas of the state!

Selling or leasing the Turnpike to a “profit” or “income” generating entity would ultimately impact the quality of the Ohio Turnpike. Indiana has leased their Turnpike for 75 years and many frequent drivers have complained about the road’s deterioration and the miss-functioning automated machines which have replaced personnel resulting in long lines and frustrated drivers – not to mention tolls that have nearly doubled only four years into the lease agreement! Very concerning in this economy is the prospect of tolls being increased on Northern Ohioans to satisfy a profit seeking entity. Northern Ohioans neither need nor deserve a tax increase in the form of increased tolls!

The Ohio Turnpike is an important economic lifeline bringing in untold millions of dollars to our state. There are numerous instances of businesses and industry locating at or near the Turnpike because of its reputation as a well managed and efficient highway. The Ohio Turnpike Commission itself promotes economic development by planning new projects to increase accessibility to business and industry. They have been true partners with county economic development endeavors for many years.

Under the administration of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, this 241 mile highway is the best maintained road in Ohio. Turnpike Service crews (not ODOT crews) are stationed about every 30 miles to keep the roadway in safe condition, clear of snow and ice. In 2009, cars and trucks logged over 3 billion miles of Turnpike driving, with an accident rate less than half the national average. Even the services of the Highway Patrol are fully paid for by the Turnpike.

Costs for Turnpike construction and maintenance do not come from federal taxes as they do for other major highways. The Turnpike does receive about $2.7 million a year from a portion of taxes generated by fuel sales along the Turnpike route. However the State stipulates that this money is allocated for the repair and maintenance of the State’s overpasses, bridges, on ramps and exit ramps which intersect with the Ohio Turnpike.

Please contact our officials with a simple message: Do not sell or lease the Ohio Turnpike!

Governor John Kasich
Riffe Center, 30th Floor
77 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43215-6117
Phone: (614) 466-3555

Director Jerry Wray
Ohio Department of Transportation
1980 West Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43223

It is vitally important that you contact your State Legislators to urge them to vote no. And tell them you want an up or down vote on this issue. Putting the legislative authority for the Governor to lease or sell the turnpike into the larger budget bill will not give this important matter the full evaluation it deserves!

The Turnpike Commission was created as stand alone legislation in 1949 and should be dealt with as stand alone legislation today.

If you live in Wood County your State Legislators are:

Hon. Mark Wagoner, State Senator
Senate Building
1 Capitol Square, 1st Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Phone: (614) 466-8060
Email: Mark@markwagoner.org

Hon. Randy Gardner, State Representative
77 S. High Street
12th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6111
(614)466-8104
Email: rgardner@wcnet.org

If you do not live in Wood County you can determine who represents you in the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives by visiting the following web site:

http://www.legislature.state.oh.us/

2 comments:

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

As someone that has a job today because of the lease of the Indiana Toll Road I cannot be opposed to the notion of a similar lease of the Ohio Turnpike although other states that have tried have not gotten the results that they hoped for. (PA for one) As a people we have to choose, leverage our assets or raise our fuel taxes to get the necessary funds for road improvements. Roads cost money...have to pay for them somehow

Mark said...

The Ohio Turnpike must not be privatized:

The Ohio Turnpike was paid for by our customers.

Revenues from our customers and advertising pay employee salaries, maintenance, snow removal, repair and upkeep of the road, toll plazas and service plazas and any other expenses that maybe incurred.

The State of Ohio pays nothing for the operation of the Ohio Turnpike.

The Ohio Turnpike is operated by the Ohio Turnpike Commission and not the State of Ohio.

The Ohio Turnpike pays the State of Ohio fuel taxes and service plaza sales taxes.

District 10 polices the Ohio Turnpike. Toll revenues ($15,529,000 in 2009) reimbursed the Ohio State Highway Patrol for all costs of operating on the Ohio Turnpike.

The employees of the Ohio Turnpike pay the State of Ohio income tax.

The employees of the Ohio Turnpike are employees of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and not the State of Ohio.

The Ohio Turnpike is a 241-mile road with 31 toll plazas and 14 service plazas.

The Ohio Turnpike is maintained by self generated income which adds nothing to Ohio residents’ federal or state taxes.

Since opening the turnpike in 1955 the Consumer Price Index has increased 657%, the Ohio Fuel Tax per Gallon increased by 460%, but the Ohio Turnpike tolls for passenger car travelers increased by only 242%.

The Ohio Turnpike is the best maintained highway in Ohio. Service crews are stationed about every 30 miles to keep the roadway in safe condition year round.

In 2009, cars and trucks logged over 3 billion miles of Turnpike driving with an accident rate less than half the national average.

For more information and to help stop the privatizion of Ohio's Assets go to the website.
http:saveourturnpikes.com

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