Cost overruns on a study of how to wring more money out of the Ohio turnpike has set off a debate over Republican Gov. John Kasich’s plan to generate increased tolls to help fund other transportation projects, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer
Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan says the $3.4 million spent so far on the turnpike study by a Texas-based consulting firm would have been put to better use on other programs, such as early childhood education.
“We’re blowing money on a firm from Texas to study this stuff,” Ryan said. “We’re not dealing with a problem here. It’s a well-run turnpike.”
Ryan and a number of Northern Ohio state lawmakers are also concerned about privatization of the roadway, which is expected to be one of the main recommendations from the study. They say it could hurt the state’s economic recovery efforts.
“When Ohio is trying to be a more competitive business environment, it doesn’t seem to make sense to have the possibility of increased tolls and less service to users,” Ryan said.
Turnpike executive director Richard Hodges calls the study to be completed at year’s end a bargain since toll revenues are expected to hit a record $249 million this year.
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