Streetsboro -- Mayor Glenn Broska believes the Ohio Turnpike, which passes through Streetsboro along with Interstate 480, has been crucial in building the city into what it is today.
"[Those roadways] are largely responsible for Streetsboro's success," he said.
So Broska was eager to testify in front of the Ohio Senate's Finance Committee March 7 in Columbus.
"I offered my support and made my best case for northeast Ohio, especially our region," he said. "I was there to try to make sure the money does stay in northeast Ohio. We have a lot more severe weather [than in the southern part of the state], so we have a much bigger need for road projects. There are a lot of projects in northeast Ohio that need funding."
Broska is supporting Gov. John Kasich's plan that will generate an additional $1.5 billion for road improvements related to the Ohio Turnpike. Broska would like to see the majority of the money used in northern Ohio, which goes along with the current plan. He said northern Ohio is defined as the area north of Route 30, which runs from Van Wert to East Liverpool in Ohio, passing just south of Canton.
On March 13, the Ohio Senate approved the $7.6 billion biennial transportation budget and turnpike bonding plan, setting the stage for formal negotiations with the Ohio House on a final version of the bill.
House Bill 51 includes a much-debated guarantee that 90 percent of the proceeds from bonding against future turnpike tolls would be spent within 75 miles of the state's lone toll road.
Sen. Joe Schiavoni, a Democrat from Boardman, opposed the overall legislation, citing the lack of assurances that toll rates would not rise higher than the rate of inflation.
"Those of us who live in northern Ohio, those of us who use the turnpike … we care deeply about this asset, and we care deeply about reinvesting the proceeds from this bond transaction into northern Ohio," said Sen. Capri Cafaro, a Democrat from Hubbard who voted in favor of the bill.
Broska said by using bonds, "the money would be made available much quicker."
"We want ODOT projects funded sooner, which this plan will accomplish," he said. "Any money generated by the turnpike should be used by the turnpike. I was happy with that language [in the legislation], but if they wanted to get more specific, I would support that -- as long as the money is used in northeast Ohio. We're the ones who have supported the turnpike."
Broska said Kasich's plan is "fiscally responsible."
"It is based upon an established stream of revenue," he said.
He said "keeping the turnpike in the hands of Ohio citizens but using it to help fund nearby transportation projects is a great idea."
"This plan also provides a way to replace the base road of the current turnpike," he said. "This will bring revenue to fund important projects in northern Ohio," he added.
The Senate version also contains an increase in the speed limit on highways from 65 mph to 70 mph, a decade long freeze on turnpike tolls, a tax break for Ohioans subject to toll hikes higher than the rate of inflation and a reduction in vehicle registration late fees.
(Editor's Note: Dix Communications Capital Bureau Chief Marc Kovac contributed to this article.)