For a cash-strapped state government, leasing the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike to some private corporation is tempting. The state would get a huge wad of cash to plug budget holes.
The turnpike has been a controversial topic for years. Built in the 1950s, tolls were to expire in the 1980s. That didn’t happen.
There have been charges of corruption and dirty politics in the Ohio Turnpike Commission, the organization that operates the toll road.
But cash has been plowed back into maintaining and improving what has been called Ohio’s Great Super Road, and the ‘pike is one of the best maintained highways in the nation. Additionally, there have been reforms enacted at the commission.
Remember, those who use the road pay for the road, including interstate trucks. What’s more fair than that?
A private corporation might forgo maintenance and improvement projects to generate a little more profit. Staff would be cut, in the name of profit. In other cases where toll roads were privatized, tolls have shot up for profit.
This is a case of the old axiom, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The turnpike is working fine. Don’t mess with it.
Ohio has big budget holes to fill. But a one-time shot of cash isn’t the answer. Find the root cause of the problem, and fix that.