Paying for Bridge, Road Work in Ohio

For some time, state officials considered selling or leasing the 241-mile-long Ohio Turnpike as a way to raise money to maintain and construct roads throughout the state.

But earlier this month, Gov. John Kasich unveiled a plan to retain control over the turnpike. His proposal is for the state to continue operating the highway and collecting tolls from users.

Income from tolls would be used to cover issuance of $1.5 billion in bonds. That money in turn would leverage $1.5 billion in local and federal highway funding.

Kasich’s idea should provide cash to undertake road and bridge projects throughout the state that have been postponed for too long. Part of the beauty of the strategy is that it does not require the state to sell or otherwise cede control of an extremely valuable asset, the turnpike.

Critics of the plan say it will benefit travelers only in the northern section of the state. But, by freeing up money that would have been used there, the idea also will improve bridges and highways elsewhere in Ohio. It is an excellent plan, and state officials should proceed with it.