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Published: Monday, 9/16/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

OHIO TOLLS TO RISE

Turnpike panel finalizes $930M in road projects

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF
The four other projects in northwest Ohio that the turnpike commission has agreed to help fund include:

● $163 million toward a $176 million complete rebuild of the I-475 interchange with I-75 in central Toledo with major work set to begin in 2015.

● $204.1 million for $366.5 million in widening, interchange, and other improvements to I-75 in Wood and Hancock counties, most of which is set to begin next year. The remaining $162.4 million will be funded by ODOT.

● $12.9 million toward $31.7 million in widening and other improvements to U.S. 250 from U.S. 6 in downtown Sandusky to Bogart Road, providing better access from the turnpike to Cedar Point and the Lake Erie islands. The project will begin in 2015.

● $10 million toward a $59 million upgrade of the I-475 interchange with Central Avenue (U.S. 20) in Sylvania Township, set to begin in 2015.

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission on Monday finalized its agreements with the state to fund $930 million in highway and bridge projects off the toll-road corridor through borrowing backed by future toll collections.

Of that, $410 million, or 44 percent, has been earmarked for northwest Ohio projects in Lucas, Wood, Hancock, and Erie counties.

“Had it not been for this funding, we would be waiting on most of these projects until at least 2020,” commission Chairman Jerry Hruby said.

The biggest of the 10 project price tags, $340 million, was approved for a new eastbound Cleveland inner-belt bridge on I-90. On Friday, however, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that the apparent winning bid for that project came in at $273 million.

ODOT Assistant Director Greg Murphy said the department will return later with recommendations on how that $67 million in savings should be allocated, pointing to such projects as the $51 million widening of I-75 between Toledo’s Phillips Avenue and I-280.

The turnpike’s role in that project, set to begin in 2015, was trimmed last week from $45 million to $20 million by ODOT to get it under the $930 million target.

“More than likely, we’ll put it toward these other projects,” Mr. Murphy said.

Under legislation, the turnpike has taken on $1 billion of what will ultimately be $1.5 billion in debt backed by toll revenue. 

This marks the first time that the turnpike will fund projects well off its east-to-west corridor.

To pay the tab, tolls will climb 2.7 percent a year for 10 years, beginning Jan. 1, for turnpike users with the exception of commuters using E-ZPass and traveling fewer than 30 miles between exits.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com, or 614-221-0496.



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