John Kasich, Ohio governor, has a bad concept. He wants to lease the Ohio Turnpike to private investors.
Is there any person who believes that would serve Ohio citizens?
We have seen such schemes before, when the Indiana Toll Road and Chicago Skyway fell into the hands of private investors. Tolls went up, maintenance went down.
A few years ago, after tragic deaths involving semi trucks on two-lane state routes, Ohio made an effort to lure the big trucks back to the turnpike, with great success. Higher tolls will undo those efforts, driving truckers back onto the twolane roads.
The consistent repair and improvement of the turnpike and toll plazas, under the leadership of Ohioans on the Ohio Turnpike Commission, won’t be matched by private investors, whose only motive will be to suck as much cash out of turnpike revenue as possible.
Currently costs for turnpike construction and maintenance are covered mainly through tolls and restaurant and service station concessions.
If the turnpike is leased to private investors, we fear the term “deferred maintenance” will become the watchword.
Ohio needs every advantage, including a smooth, fast Ohio Turnpike, to link local farms and industries to customers east and west. Putting the turnpike in private hands jeopardizes that edge.
Kasich does not own the Ohio Turnpike. Ohioans own it. Kasich is merely a temporary custodian; in as few as two years, he may be fired.
The vision statement of the Ohio Turnpike Commission is “to be the road of choice for those traveling across Northern Ohio.” Will the turnpike be the road of choice if leased to private investors?
Who is watching out for the longterm interests of turnpike users?