COLUMBUS-State Representatives John Patrick Carney, Kathleen Clyde, Matt Lundy and Alicia Reece highlighted Turnpike data discrepancies that were revealed raising serious questions during testimony on Gov. Kasich’s proposed transportation budget.
This week, Turnpike Director Rick Hodges stated in his written testimony before the House Finance Committee that 56 percent of Turnpike traffic is border-to-border and are therefore out-of-state travelers. ODOT sites that 45 percent of traffic on the Turnpike travels border-to-border. This number is an estimate that comes from a $1.5 million dollar KPMG study that uses a travel demand model, rather than the actual gate receipt data.
“The discrepancies in the numbers put out by Gov. Kasich’s administration, and the decision to forego using the actual data is fishy at best,” said Rep. Clyde (D- Kent). “Serious questions are arising about whether Gov. Kasich is fudging these numbers in order to walk away from his promise to the people of Northern Ohio.”
The large discrepancies in numbers and the use of estimates rather than actual available gate receipt data have raised concerns that data is being fudged. The estimate by KPMG and the number used by Director Hodges appear to be overly large when compared to a recent 2010 study by the Toledo Metro Area Council of Governments that found only 13.8 percent of Turnpike traffic is border-to-border.
“My constituents are concerned this is just another empty promise by Gov. Kasich,” said Rep. Lundy (D- Lorain). “The turnpike has created jobs for many in the local communities surrounding it throughout the years, helping to support the local economy. Now Gov. Kasich is turning his back on the promise he made to these communities.”
Questions arose that these bolstered estimated numbers were being used to allow Gov. Kasich to argue it is predominately out-of-state travelers that use the Turnpike, not Northern Ohioans. The concern is that Gov. Kasich is using these exaggerated numbers to justify the reversal of his promise to direct 90 percent of the money to Northern Ohio.
“As ranking member on the Transportation Sub-committee, members are raising some very serious concerns to me about this misinformation. These questions must be answered, and I hope the Kasich administration will work with us to get answers,” said Rep. Reece (D- Cincinnati).
“Ohioans deserve truthful answers from the governor about this misleading information, because the math isn’t adding up,” said Rep. Carney (D- Columbus). “Why would you estimate the border-to-border travel when the data is available unless there is something to hide?”
During testimony this week Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray began to back away from Gov. Kasich’s promise that 90 percent of the money from the bonding of the Turnpike would be used in Northern Ohio. Director Wray characterized that promise as “foolish.”