State Reps. Matt Lundy (D- Elyria) and Ronald V. Gerberry (D- Austintown) will soon be introducing legislation to require the Ohio Turnpike Commission to hold four public hearings within three months of the bill being enacted on the issue of outsourcing the maintenance and operation of the Ohio Turnpike. The public hearings would be held in geographically diverse locations in the state that are within the immediate vicinity of the Ohio Turnpike.
“Ohioans in communities all along the Turnpike are outraged at the Governor’s apparent plan to privatize the Turnpike without even allowing for public input,” said Rep. Lundy. “The turnpike has created jobs for many in the local communities surrounding it throughout the years, helping to support the local economy. Privatizing the Turnpike could cost jobs, hurting those very same communities.”
The bill would also amend and repeal certain sections of the Revised Code to eliminate the authority of the Director of Budget Management and the Director of Transportation in regard to Ohio Turnpike-related outsourcing contracts.
“The residents of northern Ohio helped finance this incredibly valuable asset and giving up ownership in any manner is wrong. Selling off Ohio assets for one time money is clearly not the right direction for our great state,” said Rep. Gerberry. “Ohioans deserve better leadership and a Governor who will listen to their needs and concerns.”
Furthermore, upon the conclusion of the last hearing, the Commission shall compile any materials submitted to it during the hearings and prepare a report that summarizes the comments of persons who appeared at the hearings. The Commission shall present the report to the Governor and the presiding officers and minority leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives not later than thirty days after the date of the last hearing.
“We need to look no further than to our neighbors in Indiana to see what will happen if we privatize the Ohio Turnpike,” said Rep. Lundy. “Indiana struck a $3.8 billion, 75-year lease deal with a foreign vendor for its 151-mile toll road. In the five years since the lease, tolls have more than doubled, maintenance of the road and rest areas has deteriorated greatly, and now the foreign company that leased the turnpike is in danger of defaulting on their loans.”
Gov. Kasich is seeking to privatize the Ohio Turnpike for 50 years at an estimated $3 billion. This one-time cash infusion would cost the state a valuable source of annual revenue. The revenue from a potential privately run Turnpike could also leave the state, as many private operators are based on Wall Street or overseas. The Ohio Turnpike has helped support local economies for years by creating and maintaining jobs. Communities fear privatization will cause drastic increases in toll costs, and the 241 mile road that stretches Northeast Ohio—through the Snowbelt—will not be as well maintained.