This is expected to be a record year for road construction, with the Ohio Department of Transportation planning to spend $2.4 billion maintaining and building roads and bridges. But the agency’s director is worried about funding for ODOT down the road.
Big projects are planned on freeways in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, and work continues on the largest project ever in southern Ohio, the Portsmouth Bypass.
But 90 percent of ODOT’s spending goes to rehabbing and maintaining existing roads and bridges, not to add capacity. ODOT director Jerry Wray says that will become a problem with construction costs going up and gas tax revenue declining.
“There are projects that we will not have the money to build,” Wray said. “And they will have to be delayed – and that’s what we do. You don’t not build them. You just delay them until you have the money.”
With more fuel efficient and electric vehicles on roads, Wray thinks the state will turn eventually to a system to charge drivers by the mile instead of by the gallon of gas.