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 the Earth.
Here in ODOT District 11, all of Interstate 470 will be resurfaced in Belmont County for $11.7 million, and work will begin on the $34 million landslide repair project along State Route 7 near Rush Run in Jefferson County.
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.