Ohio interstate speed limit headed to 70 mph PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN, Sentinel County Editor   
Tuesday, 12 March 2013 09:08
File photo. Interstate 75 in Wood County. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Ohio speed limits may soon be bumped up to 70 mph on interstate highways outside urban areas.
On Monday, the Senate Transportation Committee also rejected a plan to allow heavier trucks on state routes, and required that turnpike bonds focus on road projects in the northern portion of the state.
The budget bill includes the governor's plan to raise about $1.5 billion for state highway projects through Ohio Turnpike bonds. The amendment would make sure that at least 90 percent of the funds would be spend on projects within 75 miles of the turnpike.
According to an email from ODOT Chief of Staff Greg Murphy, the investment in northern Ohio will nearly triple with the bond proceeds - reaching approximately $1.8 billion between 2014 and 2019.
Gov. John Kasich had made verbal promises of this, but the Senate committee put it in writing. "That's brand new today," said State Senator Randy Gardner, R-Bowling Green, who is a member of the Senate Transportation Committee.
"We made some significant improvements on the bill today," Gardner said Monday afternoon. However, he added, "I still think there's more work to do."
Among the changes made Monday in the transportation bill:
• The provision to allow heavier trucks weighing up to 90,000 on state roads was "deleted," Gardner said.
• An amendment was approved requiring ODOT to establish a fund to help townships, municipalities and counties when the turnpike creates problems with overpasses, approaches, grade separations, etc. "This requires a specific fund is established to help local government," Gardner said.
• An amendment was adopted to freeze turnpike toll rates for local turnpike trips of 30 miles or less. This also was mentioned by Kasich, but wasn't written into the bill until Monday.
• A proposal was approved setting the maximum speed for interstate outerbelts in urban areas at 65 mph and on freeways in congested areas at 55 mph.
"The changes dealing with the turnpike are all very positive," Gardner said.
Organizations endorsing the turnpike reform plan now include the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Northwest Ohio Regional Economic Development, and Ohio Farm Bureau.
The bill will likely be on the Senate floor by Wednesday, and then must go back to the Ohio House.
"There's still work to do," Gardner said.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 10:50

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