The new director of the Ohio Turnpike is OK with the idea of leasing the turnpike, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“We need to find ways to fund our infrastructure, and if the turnpike can be part of that, I think it’s great,” Richard Hodges told the Associated Press.
Hodges said the issue of leasing the turnpike was part of the bigger issue of how the state will pay for its infrastructure with limited resources. He also called the state’s transportation system “one of the great assets of Ohio.”
Hodges is a former state representative and took over as director of the turnpike several weeks ago.
“Gov. [John] Kasich has demonstrated his leadership in looking at every agency of state government trying to find economy and efficiencies, trying to rethink the role of those agencies,” Hodges said, “and I think we need to go through that process as well in that spirit.”
Critics of leasing fear a loss of control over the turnpike, with declining maintenance and rising tolls. They point out that tolls have nearly doubled on the Indiana Toll Road in the five years since private investors took over its operation.
Hodges said he is prepared for the criticism and seeks the outcome of a study of the prospects for leasing the turnpike.