Gov. Kasich moving forward with Ohio Turnpike lease plan 2012.10.17

Written by David Green.

It wasn’t good news to Fayette mayor Ruth Marlatt. Not at all.

When she learned earlier this month that Ohio Governor John Kasich is moving closer to leasing the Ohio Turnpike, her concern about the decision’s impact on Fayette only increased.

Marlatt first spoke to village council members about the issue in February, and in May council voted to join many other communities in northern Ohio by sending a letter of disapproval to the governor.

Kasich spoke about leasing the turnpike to a private firm early in his term as governor. On Oct. 4, he announced in Cleveland that a decision would be made within the next 30 days.

Kasich said during the Cleveland speech that more than a billion dollars would be raised over time by the sale, and those funds could be used to pay for infrastructure needs for a decade. He told business leaders in Cleveland that the bulk of the money would be used for projects in the northern part of the state.

A Texas consulting firm was paid $2.85 million to complete a feasibility study of the proposed sale, according to the Columbus Dispatch, but the results of the study have not yet been released.

If the turnpike isn’t leased to a private firm, Kasich might instead issue bonds against the roadway or have ODOT take over operations.

Critics of the lease plan claim that a similar move in Indiana left its toll road with higher fares and poorer maintenance. Marlatt spoke about the concern of increased traffic on U.S. 20 passing through Fayette as more truckers would look for alternatives to higher fares. The loss of some local jobs is also anticipated.

Ed Kinston of Pioneer, a former turnpike commission member, has said that the interest in a decision to lease the highway would likely focus on the revenue earned rather than the effect of the move to communities along the road.

Some critics have described the plan as short term gain followed by long-term problems, but Gov. Kasich believes action is needed to pay for road and bridge projects.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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