Ohio Department of Transportation...
Billion Highway Budget Shortfall: Where do We Go from Here?
the Ohio Department of Transportation
March 7, 2012
highways are essential to keeping and creating new jobs. Our state’s
agriculture and manufacturing businesses, and the logistics operations
support them—depend on the ability to quickly and efficiently ship raw
materials and finished goods throughout Ohio, the country and the
our state’s transportation system makes it possible.
critical economic engine risks running out of gas.
Funding for our highways is drying up and is
not projected to keep up with our needs.
In fact, the state’s highway budget faces a
$1.6 billion shortfall,
which will force high-priority projects to face serious completion
news of the $1.6 billion highway budget shortfall came as a shock to
has been expected for several years by those in the transportation
done about it, assuming the funds would be found before the projected
became reality. Well,
here we stand
today and we are facing a massive shortfall.
This practice of not being straight about the
depth of our highway
funding problem is coming to an end.
have to honestly face up to the problem if we’re ever going to fix it
protect the job-creating tool that is our highway system.
of the problem is simple: the recent economic decline combined with
efficient vehicles that use less gas, inflation and a federal stalemate
long-term, national transportation funding plan has left Ohio—and every
state—in a precarious position. The federal and state motor fuel
primary highway funding source—are not raising as much money as they
and are unable keep up with the rising costs of construction materials.
Ohio did when we came together last year to close our state’s $8
budget deficit, Ohio must come together to close our highway deficit. The basic reason is
simple: we cannot pay
highway construction workers with dollars that don’t exist. The bigger reason is, of
course, unless we
keep our roads in good shape and build new projects that boost
well as safety and congestion relief—we won’t foster the jobs-friendly
Ohio so desperately needs to get back on track.
shortfall Ohio is facing now is very frustrating, and I’m sure we share
same frustration that every local mayor, county official, legislator,
leader and driver feels.
problems aren’t insurmountable, not by a longshot.
We can move forward and find the funds to
keep Ohio moving if we have the courage to think in new ways.
place to start is with ODOT’s own costs.
We’re taking every conceivable step to reduce
them. We’ve reduced
our overhead and are using new
ways to more efficiently and effectively build major projects faster
important, however, is that we’re exploring entirely new strategies for
building highways that break with the status quo and reflect a new way
looking at ideas to
utilize money from the private sector.
We’re studying the potential of the Ohio
Turnpike, and looking at all of
the options from moving the operations under ODOT, to bonding against
turnpike’s revenue to a potential lease.
what happens, there will be contractual guidelines on tolls and
that will keep the road as strong as we know it today—or better. I
upcoming debate and want to engage in the conversation with
the federal, state and local levels that is long overdue.
pretending we don’t have a problem.
must take this opportunity to bring leaders to the table and work
solve this problem.
a good transportation system we
lose jobs and Ohio fades. By
the same creative spirit for which Ohio is known, we can solve this
keep Ohio moving in the right direction.