Ohio Gov. John Kasich on Monday signed a transportation budget bill that includes higher speed limits and diverting money from the Ohio Turnpike for other road purposes.
Speed limits along rural interstates will move up to 70 mph under the new law, matching that along the Ohio Turnpike, up to 65 mph on urban outer beltways and congested highways, and up 60 mph on some nonurban, two-lane highways as determined by the Ohio Department of Transportation. Published reports indicate the state DOT has yet to determine what sections of roadway will get the higher limits.
The two-year measure that takes effect on July 1 allows the state to borrow up to $1.5 billion against tolls collected from the state turnpike to help fund highway and bridge projects. When coupled with matching federal money along with local funds, it’s expected this will bring the pool of money for highway repairs to as high as $3 billion.
Money from Ohio Turnpike tolls will allowed to be used for other road projects, but stipulates that 90% be spent on projects within 75 miles of the turnpike.
The law also renames and expands the state turnpike commission to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
While the new law doesn’t call for a hike in the state’s fuel taxes, it does create a task force to examine transportation needs in the Buckeye State and whether a fuel tax increase is needed.
At one time lawmakers were looking at including in the legislation language that would have increased truck weights along state highways from 80,000 to 90,000 pounds, but it was blocked.