New coalition sounds warning about lack of road funding, suggests gas tax increase

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A new statewide coalition is asking state leaders to reinvest in Ohio’s roadways.

The For Ohio – Fix Our Roads Coalition recommends the state increase the current fuel tax, to help generate more money for road improvement projects. 

Statewide funding for road infrastructure is down. 

The Ohio Department of Transportation had 2.1 billion dollars to spend on capital improvements in 2018. However, that number will shrink to 1.7 billion in 2020, leaving a trickle-down effect to local agencies.

“There’s about a 10 percent decrease coming up in the next few years. We’ve been notified by ODOT that our funds we rely on are being reduced,” said Paul Gruner, Montgomery County’s head engineer. 

“Starting in fiscal year 21 we are expecting to lose a million dollars compared to what we have now. That’s about a 5 percent reduction in the funds we can award,” said Brian Martin, the Executive Director of the Miami Valley Planning Commision. 

Fix Our Roads Ohio is eyeing an increase in state fuel tax as a solution. 

In Ohio, drivers pay 28 cents per gallon in fuel tax. That’s 29th lowest in the U.S.

The highest fuel tax rate in the U.S. is Pennsylvania. They pay 58 cents per gallon in taxes. 

“Most people, I think, are aware that Ohio is the 7th most populated state in the union. We are in a situation where the seventh most populated state is underfunding its transportation network needs. We need to work on that,” said Dayton RTA CEO, Mark Donaghy. 

A higher gas tax could result in higher gas prices. Leaving drivers caught up in the middle. 

“I’m just kind of worried that even with the gas tax on it (the total price of gas per gallon) and then the regular inflation of a gas pric, that could be a little bit much,” said Ashai Burns, a Xenia resident. 

ODOT has roughly 2.1 billion dollars in their budget to improve roadways this year. 

Officials say planning new projects or significant maintence for 2020 and beyond is a mute point. 

All current projects are funded because ODOT essentially spends that money up-front. 

Projects that deal with roadway expansion or new pavement that may have been pegged foe 2020, are not currently funded. 

Simply put, the longer ODOT has to put things on the back burner, the more expensive the fix becomes. 

The American Petroleum Institute says drivers in the U.S. spend an average of 48 cents per gallon in gas taxes. 

Ohio’s current rate of 28 cents per gallon has been in place for some time. The coalition argues the state is actually losing more money off that rate because it has not adjusted to recent inflation. 

The Fix Our Roads Ohio Coalition is also quick to point out that Ohio has the nation’s second largest inventory of bridges and the nation’s fourth largest interstate highway system. 

“We now rank 41st in the U.S. in terms of per capita funding for transit,” said Mark Donaghy, the CEO of Dayton RTA. 

ODOT told 2 NEWS that despite decreased capital funding, there will be no impact on winter road treatment.  

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