The governing board of the Ohio Turnpike met today and gave the go-ahead to Governor John Kasich's plan to have the Turnpike go heavily into debt to fund non-revenue road projects around the state. And to reassure bond investors the Turnpike can service the debt it committed to ten years of annual inceases in toll rates of 2,7% each year.
The Ohio Turnpike Commission have redone their website. Lauren Hakos, director of marketing and communications who was in charge of the project says the main aim was to make it easier for their customers to use.
Fitch Ratings say that an extra $1.5 billion in debt "is not expected to negatively impact the quality of existing OTC debt" and that they view the plan as "conservative." The money will be used for a mix of reconstruction and for off-Turnpike untolled projects.
Announcing his plan in mid-December Governor Kasich promised:
- no layoffs of Turnpike personnel
Ohio Turnpike (and Infrastructure) Commission votes to borrow $1.5b, celebrates no-P3, toll cap pledges, but debt costs to rise
2012/12/18: The Ohio Turnpike commissioners have voted unanimously to support Governor John Kasich's "Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan" which after fears of a longterm-lease and concession leaves the Turnpike as a state business. And the Turnpike gets the governor's blessing to borrow another $1.5 billion to be given out for free roads, enhancing its political role but sapping its financial strength.
The Kasich administration in Ohio is setting up for a presentation Monday on future alternatives for the state Turnpike. Staff at the Turnpike got a memo Friday telling them the presentation would be streamed live Monday Oct 15.
Ohio Turnpike officials say they've countered a classic old ticket swapping scam by some truckers at their automatic toll payment machines. The scam involved getting intermediate tickets at unstaffed Turnpike toll points near each end of the Turnpike then swapping those for end-point tickets to convert the full length toll ($40 for a tractor trailer) to a short trip toll (like $8.)
The Turnpike tickets do record date and time of issue and toll collectors are on the look-out for swaps. They are trained to scan the tickets for implausible entry times, and to ask questions.
May 21: With Governor John Kasich looking at possible concessioning of the Ohio Turnpike to investors as in Indiana to the west, the state Turnpike Commission is making serious moves to enhance its efficiency and cut costs.
Maintenance and engineering departments will be consolidated in the biggest reorganization.
The Ohio Turnpike tends to reflect the state governor's politics at the top. So after Republican John Kasich defeated the Democrats in the last state election the former Democrat politician-CEO George Distel stepped down. Distel, an appointee under Kasich's predecessor Democrat Gov Ted Strickland was replaced by a former Republican pol Richard Hodges last November.
In Ohio the legislature has approved Governor Kasich's request for $2.6m for consultant studies of how to get best value out of the Ohio Turnpike - whether to sell, concession, P3 or privatize it, and how.
And up in Maine the Governor Paul LePage and senator Doug Thomas are pushing studies of the old idea of a 230 mile east-west tollroad Calais to Coburn Gore. That's seen as a project for investors.
It could provide a shortcut for trucks and other vehicles between Nova Scotia and Quebec/Ontario.
Despite scaremongering about an increase in the speed limit to 70mph in the spring of 2011 the Ohio Turnpike remained one of the safest roads in the region and fatalities for the year at six continued a downward trend. The fatality number hasn't been this low in any year since the Turnpike opened.