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09/21/2007

Developers should share cost of highway improvements, Governor says

Economic benefit will be bigger factor in project selection

Private developers whose projects benefit from upgrades in the transportation infrastructure should contribute more to covering costs that taxpayers currently pick up, Governor Ted Strickland said Friday.

The governor, speaking to the Ohio Planning Conference, said developers have long benefited from publicly funded changes, saying a “policy shift” in that area is needed.

In response, he told planners he has asked the Department of Transportation to develop “fair-share” guidelines that more equally balance the cost and benefits to developers.

He said later that the concept is in development stages, adding that Ohio will look to other states for model about how they approach the issue. “It depends on the size of the project and the degree to which that project has on a larger public economic interest,” he said.

Separately, Strickland told planners he has asked the ODOT to propose changes in the system for scoring and prioritizing major new transportation construction projects to place extra weight on economic development criteria.

Noting that just four of 88 high-priority "Tier 1" highway projects selected for construction since 2003 have received economic development points, Strickland said officials should place more weight on the impact that the construction can have on the state’s economy.

Currently, he said the scoring system does not consider that projects could help raise property values or help in the production of new goods and services. ODOT, he said, is seeking information from other states on how they consider economic development in determining infrastructure priorities.

The state should create policies that encourage redevelopment of urban areas, noting that past policies have encouraged urban flight and sprawl, Strickland said.

Urban areas “have not received the kind of action they deserve from their state’s government,” he said. “If we do not have strong cities in Ohio, we will not have a strong Ohio.”

(Gongwer Ohio Report, Sept. 21, 2007)

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