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Kasich: Announcement on Ohio Turnpike plans coming this week

by MARC KOVAC | CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: December 12, 2012 12:00 AM

Columbus -- Gov. John Kasich will announce his proposal for the Ohio Turnpike later this week, unveiling the details over two days during stops throughout the state.

Kasich told reporters and an audience of county commissioners and engineers Dec. 10 about the timetable but didn't shed any light on the plan and the potential privatization of Ohio's only toll road.

"You're going to know by the end of this week," Kasich said. "We will be talking about our plans in detail at the end of this week and would very much like you to study them."

The governor's appearance Dec. 10 before the County Commissioners Association and County Engineers Association in Columbus was the latest in a series of speeches before various groups in recent weeks where he has sought support for his plan.

He's said repeatedly that the turnpike is an underutilized asset that could be leveraged to pay for road and bridge projects. And he's said he's going to make sure the northern third of Ohio that is home to the Turnpike benefits from any plan that is adopted.

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"I understand how sensitive people are in the north about the Turnpike," Kasich said.

"I understand it's an emotional issue. And we listened to people, and we're going to respond in a way to get value out of that asset."

He added, "The bulk of this money will be spent in the north, and we will be able to complete projects much sooner than we could if we didn't move forward with this, taking into account the many concerns of people who in some ways have had a very strong emotional attachment to a highway."

Kasich's comments have not swayed some of the groups he's addressed, however. The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, for example, maintained its opposition to the privatization of the Turnpike the day after the governor asked members for their support.

Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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