2012-02-29 / Opinion

Hodges Gets Message From Pioneer Mayor: Don't Lease The Turnpike!

Rick Hodges, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, former state representative, and Archbold High School graduate, visited Fulton County with a mission Friday, Feb. 17.

The mission was to try and smooth over the sore spot created by John Kasich, Ohio governor, to put the Ohio Turnpike into private hands.

Hodges told Northwest Ohio the state is strapped for cash, and Kasich must “put everything on the table” for cost-cutting. The turnpike can’t be excluded.

Hodges said leasing the turnpike is not a done deal. There is a $2.8 million study underway, which may say the best plan is not to privatize the ‘pike.

And, on top of that, local people will have a chance to express their opinions on the future of the toll road.

Hodges got an earful of local opinion, courtesy of Ed Kidston, mayor

of Pioneer and a former member of the turnpike commission.

During a meeting with the Fulton County Commissioners and other area officials, Kidston listed several reasons he is adamantly opposed to privatization.

He pointed out the turnpike makes most of its revenue from travelers from outside the state of Ohio, but it hires Ohio workers, who pay Ohio taxes, and spend their money in Ohio.

The turnpike commission makes an effort to hire Ohio contractors when roadwork is necessary. In short, most Ohio Turnpike money stays in Ohio. A private contractor may not be as committed to spending money in Ohio.

Leasing the turnpike “is a crazy idea, and I don’t need $2.8 million to come to that conclusion,” Kidston said.

Isn’t that the message Hodges should take back to Columbus?

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