COLUMBUS — With nearly $1 billion in Ohio Turnpike bond financing assured, a state panel on Thursday finalized its list of top highway and bridge projects that includes major improvements to I-75 and I-475 in northwest Ohio.
The Transportation Review Advisory Council made some last-minute changes to the $3 billion funding list, moving some money around to reflect recent funding decisions by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. But priorities and construction timetables for the top projects remained largely what had been previously proposed.
The turnpike’s involvement has been nixed, but the long-awaited $31.6 million McCord Road railroad underpass in Holland remains on track for construction to begin next year.
TRAC had hoped the turnpike would agree to help finance a portion of the project, but the turnpike commission decided it was too much of a stretch to argue that the safety project bore some relationship to the toll road and its mission.
The road was one of just two TRAC recommendations rejected by the newly revamped turnpike commission.
The state filled the $2.7 million gap for the McCord project with traditional sources of construction funding. The bulk of the funding comes from local sources.
On the list in northwest Ohio:
● $176 million for the final phase of rebuilding the I-475/I-75 interchange in central Toledo and widening I-75 between there and Phillips Avenue, with major work to begin in 2015.
● $51 million to widen I-75 between Phillips and I-280, also set to begin in 2015.
● $195 million in widening and other improvements to I-75 in Wood County, with work to begin next year.
● $59 million upgrade of the I-475 interchange with Central Avenue (U.S. 20) in Sylvania Township, set to begin in 2015.
● $13.6 million for improvements to the U.S. 224 bridge and interchange with I-75 in Findlay, scheduled for 2014.
● $31.7 million in widening and other improvements to U.S. 250 from U.S. 6 in downtown Sandusky to Bogart Road in Erie County, providing better access to Cedar Point and the Lake Erie islands, set to begin in 2015.
Under a plan approved by lawmakers and Gov. John Kasich, the turnpike has borrowed $1 billion so far of what will ultimately be $1.5 billion in debt guaranteed by future toll revenue. The turnpike itself received the first $70 million, to be applied toward its ongoing bridge-deck replacement program, leaving $930 million available for TRAC projects.
It marks the first time that tolls will be used to pay for projects off the 241-mile, east-west turnpike corridor, but all the highways involved are, at some point, within 20 miles of the toll road.
The toll financing is expected to serve as the state match for $1.5 billion in federal funding. The Kasich administration has said the total $3 billion in construction will create 60,000 jobs.
Included in the second tier of projects — those in the engineering-and-design stage — include a $198.2 million addition of a third lane to I-75 in Hancock County north of U.S. 68; a $55 million widening of I-475 from U.S. 20 to U.S. 24, and a $14.7 million relocation of State Rt. 66 around the west side of Archbold, using Fulton County Road 24.
Contact Jim Provance at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 614-221-0496.
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