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Opinion

Transportation budget strengthens state

5/2/2013 - South Side Leader
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By Anthony DeVitis

Guest Editorial

One major reason for people and businesses to move into our great state of Ohio is because of our accessible roads and valuable interstate system. It is vital that we protect these assets and continue to allow them to improve in our state.

Just recently, the House and Senate passed the transportation budget. This bill, known as Substitute House Bill 51, specifies how funding will be utilized over the next two years in regards to transportation and roads. Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law after it was passed by the legislature. As representative of the 36th House District, I voted for this initiative because it just made sense for Ohio.

Sub. House Bill 51 issues over $2.5 billion annually for the improvement of roads in the state. It also increases the state’s maximum speed limit to 70 mph on interstates outside of cities.

Another significant portion of the bill deals with the Ohio Turnpike, which is a major resource in Northern Ohio. Sub. House Bill 51 allows for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to provide bonds that will generate $1.5 billion for road projects taking place over the next six years.

Being able to use the toll revenues for the selling of bonds can enhance roads in Northern Ohio. The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission would issue $1.5 billion in bonds, joined with matching local and federal funds, adding $3 billion for road projects in Ohio. This is critical since some areas have not been repaired since 1949 and the plan allows for $70 million to improve the Turnpike’s base pavement.

It also specifies that 90 percent of the bond revenues be utilized within 75 miles of the Turnpike, concentrating on projects in Northern Ohio. In addition, the bill freezes toll rates for the next 10 years for E-Z Pass users who travel fewer than 30 miles.

Another unique part of the bill will work to create the Turnpike Mitigation Program, which will assist communities who are having issues with the Turnpike, such as noise mitigation, bridge embankments, drainage, bridge repair and grade separations.

I am proud of the work achieved between the two chambers, the people of Ohio and the governor’s office in allowing for the transportation budget to help better our state. We have reached our goal of providing Ohioans with a system of roads that works for them and for our ever-growing economy.

The House just passed the budget bill as well, which allocates funding for everything including health care, schools and local governments, among others. I know it took a lot of discussion and research, but I have every faith that we passed a budget that is beneficial to Ohioans and the citizens in my district. It now makes its way to the Senate for further consideration.

 

State Rep. Anthony DeVitis (R-District 36), a Green resident, may be reached by calling 614-466-1790, emailing Rep36@ohiohouse.gov, or writing to 77 S. High Street, Columbus, OH 43215.

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