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Release ODOT from its box

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/14/07 @ 4:41pm

Amidst news that ODOT is bracing for a $1.2 billion budgetary shortfall, we present a section devoted to reforming ODOT from its highway building era to the engine behind Gov. Strickland's Turnaround Ohio: Revitalizing Our Cities and Towns plan. Freeing transportation from its box could begin with an analysis of ODOT's $2.1 billion budget to determine what percentage pays for highways and what is being invested in local roads and transportation enhancements to Complete Streets.

Ohio is one of the top spenders in the nation on new highway infrastructure, which helped catapult us near the top in the dubious category of suburban sprawl. Worse yet, many of the planned new highways and interchanges induce sprawl in areas of productive farmland. Very shortly, this farmland will be more profitable per acre when planted with corn or grasses for biofuels than another big box store.

With new ODOT director James Beasley believing that "ODOT needs to embrace a multi-modal, economically driven project selection process?weighted toward containing urban sprawl," it is incumbent upon us to supply ideas to ODOT on how to accomplish this worthwhile goal.

Yes, we want Complete Streets, we want gas tax reform that will establish a funding source for multi-modal projects, and we want a TRAC scoring system that accords equal weight to helping existing communities grow and prosper as it does to favoring capacity or widening the pipeline to handle more vehicles. Read more and help establish a new ODOT agenda.

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