Kasich in Toledo to announce record-setting roadwork seasonWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
During a trip to Toledo Ohio Gov. John Kasich quipped that, although he knows they can be frustrating to motorists, he “can’t wait” to see all the orange road construction barrels since their annual appearance means local workers on the job.
Kasich was at Modern Builders Supply on Phillips Avenue on April 9 for an Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) news conference to officially kick off a record-setting construction season. ODOT has 936 projects planned for Ohio’s roadways, amounting to an estimated $2.5 billion in contracts, the most in state history, Kasich said.
“People are going to see a lot of orange barrels. They are going to sit in some traffic. But when you’re sitting there, you know, thank the lord that there are people working, that our roads are getting better, that Ohio’s will be more prosperous as a result of it,” Kasich said.
About $580 million of that budget is earmarked for projects in Northwest Ohio, said Todd Audet, deputy director for Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) District 2, which comprises Northwest Ohio.
Among the projects are a two-year, $28 million 1-75 Downtown pavement reconstruction project, slated to reconstruct more than three miles of pavement from Dorr Street to Central Avenue in Downtown Toledo. Work is expected to start in June.
“If you’ve driven the roads after this year you’ve noticed the pavement is in pretty bad condition,” Audet said. “It’s a long time in coming and we couldn’t have went another year without this money to do the work.”
Another area project will be a nearly three-year, $53 million widening of I-75 to three lanes in both directions from Findlay to Perrysburg. That project is slated to begin in June and is expected to be completed by November 2016.
Also coming this summer will be a $14 million safety project in Sylvania to improve movement at the I-475/US 23 systems interchange. The project calls for adding through lanes from southbound US 23 to I-475 and correcting weave movement from eastbound I-475 to southbound US 23 and Central Avenue, according to ODOT. That project is slated to start in July and is expected to be completed by November 2015.
“It’s safer, it’s faster and it’s business friendly and if there’s anything we need it’s more job creation,” Kasich said of widening roads in Northwest Ohio.
Kasich credited the record-setting budget to money raised by his administration’s controversial financing plan, passed as part of legislation in 2012, which borrowed $1.5 billion against future turnpike tolls. The legislation also allowed turnpike revenue to be spent on other roads, not just the turnpike. Kasich promised to spend 90 percent of those funds in northern Ohio.
“We’re going to see projects that would have been delayed for 20 years moved up into the really near term,” Kasich said.
He said he chose Toledo for the announcement because it’s also where he announced the turnpike plan.
“[We've] come back to show the benefits of what we’ve been able to do,” Kasich said. “It’s great to be back here to be able to kind of keep our word and deliver the things they said couldn’t be done.”
Jobs was the refrain of the day.
“This is about increased safety and jobs,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “It’s about reduced congestion and jobs. It’s about development and growth and commerce — and jobs.
Also speaking at the news conference were Dennis Duffey, treasurer of the Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council, and Modern Builders Supply owner Larry Leggett.
Kasich also referenced a bill he supports going through Congress that would encourage veterans to enter the trades.
“If you can drive a truck from Kabul to Kandahar, Afghanistan, you should be able to drive a truck from Columbus to Toledo without having to get a CDL,” Kasich said. “We’ll give it to you and you can go to work.”