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Published: Wednesday, 12/12/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

OHIO TURNPIKE

Gov. Kasich to announce findings of turnpike study in Toledo

BY TOM TROY
BLADE POLITICS WRITER

The long-awaited conclusion to Gov. John Kasich's study of whether to change the way the Ohio Turnpike is operated will be announced Thursday in Toledo.

The governor's office announced today that Mr. Kasich will launch a two-day tour to announce his findings with a 10:30 a.m. news conference in Toledo. Similar news conferences have been scheduled later in the day in the Cleveland and Youngstown areas.

Among the possibilities is that the governor would back legislation to move the semi-independent turnpike authority under the Ohio Department of Transportation. That would give the Kasich administration, as well as future administrations, the option of borrowing against turnpike tolls for transportation-related projects.

The other option that was being looked at was to lease out the turnpike to a private entity.

Last year Mr. Kasich commissioned a $3.4 million study by the Texas firm KPMG Corporate Finance LLC into how to unlock some of the wealth from the 241-mile toll road across northern Ohio.

The administration has sought ways to pay for needed state transportation projects that cost $1.6 billion more than Ohio has available.

One option with the turnpike is to leave it unchanged. If a change is made, the options are a lease of 50 years or more of the highway to a private entity for an up-front lump sum, or a takeover of the toll road by ODOT.

The latter option could let the state borrow against toll-road revenue to finance road and bridge projects far from the turnpike corridor. Mr. Kasich would not provide details.

“The bulk of the money will be spent in the north, and we will be able to complete projects much sooner than we could if we didn’t move forward with this,” the governor said earlier this week.

Lawmakers of both parties have objected to distributing toll revenue paid by local travelers who use the toll road from the Ohio turnpike across the whole state.



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