January 25, 2012

More on the ODOT I-70/71 Meeting

While sitting through the January 19, 2012, ODOT public meeting about the I-70/I-71 split, I was impressed with how many suits were there. I expected a bunch of Olde Town East (OTE) residents complaining about the freeway. Instead there were about 6 OTE residents and a lot of governmental officials. 

For those of you unaware, ODOT is split up into various districts. Franklin County is in District 6 which works out of Delaware County. The Deputy District Director Ferzan Ahmed had a lot of things to say about why the projects were delayed. Here are some of the ways that ODOT will try to save/obtain money to speed up the process:
  1. Reduce ODOT operating costs
  2. Utilize the Ohio Turnpike as an "asset" (i.e., privatize it)
  3. Public-private collaboration
When I have some time, I plan on doing a boring post about how I dislike the idea of privatization of the Turnpike. But for now I'm going to focus on how Deputy Director Ahmed is kind of partisan. I only know that I'm a liberal because people tell me that since I support universal healthcare, am against for-profit schools, and believe that defense spending should be much smaller, I am a liberal.

That's why I think it irked me when the Deputy Director said that the State of Ohio became fiscally responsible at the start of the administration. Last time I checked, the State of Ohio is Constitutionally  required to balance its budget. And promising all the road projects is different than spending money on them. I can promise every reader a gold bar but I am only bankrupt if I follow through with that promise. Since said promise is not a contractual obligation, I can pander all I want.

Next up: Bicycling is cool (except when it's not)

Cool link of the day:


  1. There are often a large crowd of transportation consultants and government officials at these types of public meetings.

    1. They definitely know how to represent. I was kind of hoping for a freeway revolt. That would've been interesting.

  2. I was likewise disappointed in the low turnouts for something that has such a huge impact on the urban quality of life in the city. I presented ODOT's newer data which showed that the high and outdated numbers they were touting as evidence that the split needs to widened, with parallel streets that widen the gaps between Downtown and next-door neighborhoods, were no longer relevant for most stretches of the split what with their numbers being over a decade old before a serious economic downturn which lowered traffic volumes further than predicted (they were predicting growth, of course). ODOT acknowledged that traffic volumes had been decreasing and then City Council unanimously voted in favor of green-lighting the project and a couple million city dollars towards it.

    I even called out Mr. Ahmed on where they expected all of this money to come from when the Highway Trust Fund went insolvent twice in the previous two or three years. He admitted that funding was in fact dependent on them securing funding through them. If you're wondering why Columbus is so car-centric just go to another such meeting and see how few voices of opposition there are against projects like these and likewise how few voices of support for good projects (rail transit) there are. I pretty much got tired of meetings that were put on for show with the conclusion made beforehand.


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