WYSO

Ohio Turnpike

MReece / Flickr

The head of Ohio's toll road says it is moving closer to opening up the highway for the testing of self-driving vehicles.

The Ohio Turnpike's executive director tells The Associated Press that testing is likely to begin within 12 months, and possibly before the end of the year.

Randy Cole says the route that takes Interstate 80 from Pennsylvania to Indiana is set up well for it because it already has a fiber network along the entire roadway.

Ohio is among several states competing to play a role in the testing of self-driving vehicles.

Ohio's governor won't lease the Ohio Turnpike and instead proposes raising $1.5 billion in bonds to fund local road projects.

Up to an additional $1.5 billion could be generated by matching local and federal funds.

Republican John Kasich was announcing his plan Thursday. It caps any toll increases on trucks at inflation, freezing rates for 10 years on local trips paid for with an EZ Pass.

The governor is hinting strongly that a plan to lease the Ohio Turnpike is coming soon, possibly official by the end of the week.

Gov. John Kasich has been talking about his turnpike plans for months, but not releasing many hints, other than to say that he considers the toll road an undervalued asset. But he told a group of county commissioners and county engineers to think about the turnpike this way:

Democratic local officials opposed to leasing the Ohio Turnpike have announced they'll do their own study of whether it's a good idea.

The leaders from counties across northern Ohio said at news conferences in Cleveland and Youngstown yesterday that they're skeptical of an analysis planned by the state. They expect it will favor leasing, as proposed by Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Mahoning County Commissioner Anthony Traficanti predicted that privatizing the turnpike would be a "total nightmare" resulting in potholes and dangerous lapses in plowing and maintenance.

josephleenovak

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio's highway department says 14 companies are bidding to help guide the state with the possible lease of the Ohio Turnpike.

Gov. John Kasich said earlier this month that he wants to hire a team of private consultants to help the state determine how to get the best financial bang from the turnpike.

Ohio's Department of Transportation says bids came from 14 companies, including investment banks and law firms from across the country.