The transportation bill passed out of the Ohio General Assembly includes a 75-mile restriction on the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds, but even if it didn't, court rulings on where turnpike funds can be used would keep that money close to home, turnpike executive director Rick Hodges said during a keynote speech today.
If turnpike tolls were to be used to pay for projects that have no relevance to the turnpike, that would legally be considered a tax rather than a toll, and the turnpike does not have taxing authority, Mr. Hodges explained to the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments' Transportation Summit, attended by about 300 people at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg.
Consequently, any project for which turnpike-backed money is used will have to satisfy the renamed Ohio Turnpike Infrastructure Commission that it has a "nexus" of some sort with the toll road, Mr. Hodges said.
Among projects ODOT officials said earlier in the conference that they expect to move quickly using the first proceeds from $1.5 billion in planned turnpike bond issues is a series of widening projects on I-75 between Perrysburg and Findlay, I-75 widening between I-280 and I-475 in Toledo, and the final phase of I-75/I-475 reconstruction. The latter probably won't start until 2015 because of unfinished design work.