Just as we predicted, the Kasich Administration is trying to gain statewide support for their soon-to-be released Ohio Turnpike plan by teasing Ohioans with the possibility that turnpike lease/bonding money could be used to help solve all of their transportation woes.
In an article about the Brent Spence Bridge, which crosses the Ohio River from Kentucky to Cincinnati in Southern Ohio, ODOT spokesman Steve Faulkner told Cincinnati.com that he “would certainly consider the possibilities of how [turnpike money] could affect major transportation projects in Hamilton County.”
When talking to Clevelanders, however, Kasich and his representatives are quick to assure them that “most of the money from the turnpike would go to projects in Northern Ohio“. With a major portion of that budgeted money already promised to the 70/71 split project here in Central Ohio, that doesn’t leave much left for these other projects – like the Brent Spence Bridge – that Kasich’s people seem more than will to “consider” funding.
In 2006 Ken Blackwell proposed selling the turnpike for $5 Billion dollars. Kasich initially proposed a deal closer to $3 Billion. But now the Governor seems happy to get anything close to $1 Billion – an amount significantly lower than the $1.6 Billion transportation budget hole he claims exists. [Important side note here: Kasich cut funding for new ODOT construction projects by 80% in the 2012 budget – including only $60 Million compared the $317 Million Strickland budgeted in 2011 – with the obvious intention of building a case for Turnpike privatization due to this sudden budget shortfall.]
And even if there WAS some money left over to fund the bridge, replacing it and the nearby road has been estimated to cost from $2.5 to $3 BILLION dollars – which is three times more than Kasich is expecting to get in total from leasing the turnpike or bonding against turnpike revenue.
Kasich’s math doesn’t work. And the theoretical projects they are promising to “consider” are nothing more than a smoke screen intended to distract from the fact that Kasich wants to selfishly use the Ohio Turnpike to generate a one-time influx of cash to fund his reelection campaign.
Make no mistake: Kasich has a plan. And I’m willing to bet that the plan includes spending turnpike money on transportation projects in districts where Kasich thinks he can “buy” the most votes.