Ohio Turnpike might be leased to right suitor

Gov. John Kasich is considering a deal if he could get at least $2.4 billion

News Cleveland Plain Dealer March 09, 2011
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich is looking at leasing the Ohio Turnpike, but what the state might pocket is in question.

Some believe the storied corridor could be leased for over $6 billion, while others believe $2-4 billion would be a more reasonable score. The Turnpike pulled in $236 million in toll revenues in 2010.

“The cash flows they get out of it make the road worth [$6 billion],” Kevin O’Brien, director of the Center for Public Management at Cleveland State University, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Gov. Kasich also might face opposition from the motoring public. The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a five-county planning group, recently released a study saying a lease of the Ohio Turnpike would increase tolls and truck traffic on alternative routes. In a December poll conducted by AAA East Central, almost two-thirds of 1,000 AAA members were against a lease.

“Leasing the Ohio Turnpike appears to have few positive merits and quite a few likely negative outcomes,” the NOACA review stated.

Still, Gov. Kasich said he would take a hard look at a long-term lease if he could get as little as $2.4 billion.

“[The money could be] an economic benefit in many parts of the state where infrastructure has been ignored for years,” Rob Nichols, a Kasich spokesman, told The Plain Dealer. “It’s something he is considering.”

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