ODOT Kicks Off Busy 2012 Construction Season
Agency still short $1.6 billion to construct major new expansion projects
COLUMBUS (Tuesday, April 10, 2012) – Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jerry Wray today officially launched the 2012 road construction season and announced approximately 800 transportation preservation projects throughout the Buckeye State. Total cost: $1.8 billion. However, the state still needs more than $1.6 billion to finish additional phases of 35 major new expansion projects in communities throughout Ohio.
“We sometimes forget how a well-maintained transportation system supports the state’s overall economy,” Wray said. “With more than $438 billion in goods shipped annually by trucks – the third largest of any state – a reliable transportation system is not only the lifeblood of Ohio businesses but also the catalyst for future expansion and job creation.”
The 800 preservation projects include resurfacing 3,700 miles of interstate and state routes as well as repairs, upgrades, improvements and maintenance to hundreds of bridges, culverts, guardrails, interchanges and hillsides. Currently, ODOT maintains and preserves nearly 50,000 lane miles of interstates and highways – enough to make two trips around Earth.
Within the local area of ODOT District 1, a total of 32 projects totaling more than $39 million will be constructed this season. ODOT District 1 is responsible for state highways in Allen, Defiance, Hancock, Hardin, Paulding, Putnam, Van Wert and Wyandot counties.
Headlining the local construction program is the first phase of the reconstruction of Interstate 75 through Lima and Allen County. Phase 1, which began in February, will replace the Fourth Street and Reservoir Road bridges over Interstate 75 in Lima. Work on the mainline of I-75 will not begin until next year.
In addition, the resurfacing of approximately six miles of U.S. 30 in Allen County from Ohio 65 to Napoleon Road, and the resurfacing of approximately three miles of Interstate 75 in Hancock County from County Road 99 to County Road 109 will also take place.
ODOT is funded by state and federal motor fuel taxes. The agency’s first priority is the preservation and maintenance of its current transportation system. Any money left over goes toward constructing major new transportation projects approved by the state’s Transportation Review and Advisory Council (TRAC), a bi-partisan group responsible for approving funding for the State’s largest transportation projects.
In January, ODOT announced a $1.6 billion shortfall needed to complete future phases of 35 major new expansion projects through 2018. However, ODOT anticipates having only $100 million per year to spend on new construction after all preservation needs are met. In 2011, the TRAC received 72 applications for new transportation projects totaling an additional $10 billion.
Since then, the agency has announced plans to seek innovative and alternative funding sources to help ease the financial crunch. On top of reducing agency costs and improving efficiency, ODOT plans to pursue the commercialization of non-interstate rest areas and seek sponsorship and naming rights for certain infrastructure projects saving $100 to 200 million annually. Billions more could be generated or saved by leveraging state-owned assets – like the Ohio Turnpike – and exploring public, private partnerships.