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COLUMBUS — Faced with having to slice about $100 million from the list of highway and bridge projects it’s asking Ohio Turnpike travelers to finance, the Ohio Department of Transportation has reduced its request for improvements to I-75 in Lucas County.
But the state expects to make up the difference with more traditional sources of transportation funding to keep those projects on track.
The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission is expected today to finalize its agreements with ODOT to pick up all or a substantial portion of the tab for 12 construction projects in northern Ohio.
It marks the first time that turnpike toll revenue will be used to build projects miles off the toll-road corridor.
The commission had tentatively approved the list last week, but told ODOT to reduce the total price tag from $1.03 billion to $930 million to match the initial level of funding available.
The turnpike commission will now be asked to pay for just $20 million toward widening and other improvements to I-75 between Toledo’s Phillips Avenue and I-280. That’s $25 million less than had originally been requested.
The request for the planned upgrade of the I-475 interchange with Central Avenue in Sylvania Township is now $10 million, $34 million less than the original request.
ODOT is also reducing its request to $12.9 million for widening and other improvements to U.S. 250 from U.S. 6 in downtown Sandusky to Bogart Road, a project aimed at improving access to Cedar Point and the Lake Erie Islands. That’s down $600,000.
In each case, the share earmarked to be picked up by ODOT increases by the same amount. The state Transportation Review Advisory Council will meet Sept. 26 to finalize its own priority list, funded by state and federal fuel tax funding as well as the turnpike bonds.
No changes have been made in requests tentatively approved by the turnpike commission for $163 million toward the final phase of rebuilding the I-475/I-75 interchange in central Toledo as well as $204.1 million in widening and other improvements to I-75 in Wood and Hancock counties.
TRAC’s final priority list is also expected to include the planned McCord Road railroad underpass in Holland that the turnpike commission rejected last week, stating that ODOT failed to make the case that it has some relevance to the toll road.
ODOT had originally requested $2.7 million from the turnpike toward the total $29.3 million price tag.
“Northwest Ohio will still get what northwest Ohio has told ODOT it wants and needs,” said Steve Faulkner, an ODOT spokesman.
Gov. John Kasich and lawmakers have authorized a total of $1.5 billion in borrowing, guaranteed by future toll collections, for spending away from the 241-mile, east-west turnpike corridor. After federal and local matching funds are counted, the cash is expected to fuel a $3 billion building project.
The turnpike has borrowed $1 billion of that so far and is spending it, after skimming off $70 million for its own ongoing bridge-deck replacement project, on the $930 million in ODOT projects.
The list to be considered by the turnpike commission does not include $68 million in savings that ODOT expects from the one project on the list with the biggest price tag, construction of a second I-90 Innerbelt bridge in Cleveland.
The apparent winning bid for that project came in at $272 million. The original cost estimate included in the turnpike commission’s resolution up for a vote today is still at $340 million.
“It’s certainly a good problem to have,” said Mr. Faulkner, who noted that the price tags for all the projects remain subject to change as bids are obtained.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.