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Governor Signs Transportation Bill

Ohio Governor John Kasich yesterday signed into law his 7.6 billion dollar state transportation budget. The plan increases the speed limit to 70 miles per hour on some stretches of interstate highways. It also allows for the sale of 1.5 billion dollars in bonds against future Ohio turnpike tolls to help fund a backlog of road construction projects. Nick Castele of member station WCPN in Cleveland reports.

Until now, Turnpike tolls have only been allowed to fund maintenance and improvements on the Turnpike itself. 

Under this latest budget, bond funding will spread some toll money to other projects. 

At his signing ceremony in Warrensville Heights, several Democrats spoke in favor of the bill.

Kasich said that was important to him. 

KASICH: “We’re not going to agree on everything. But I believe that we’re seeing a thaw in terms of relationships, and it’s really important to us. It’s a critical thing that we all get along.”

90 percent of bond sale money must be spent on projects within a 75-mile radius of the turnpike. 

Democratic State Sen. Capri Cafaro of Trumbull County said that assurance was key to winning her support. 

CAFARO: “Those of us, particularly in northern Ohio, were able to stand before you and make sure that the toll monies that are being utilized by the consumers that we represent were going to be reinvested in projects in northern Ohio.”

But not all were convinced.

Sen. Nina Turner voted against the bill, in part because it didn’t include her plan to use $35 million in state and federal money toward public transit. 

TURNER: “If we don’t upgrade as a state—if we don’t make the investments necessary to local mass transit and trains, we are going to be left behind.”

Turner also objected to the bill because there was no requirement for minority contracting.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.