Some ODOT projects will not move forward without the gas tax increase

MAUMEE, Ohio (WTVG) - Governor Mike Dewine proposed an 0.18 per gallon gas tax increase to improve Ohio's roads, and without those funds, ODOT will not be able to proceed with some of its projects.

The last time Ohio's gas tax was raised was back in 2005. Today, it still sits at 0.28 per gallon.

ODOT is relying on the increase.

"If we can't get an increase, it's really going to hurt the ability we have going forward," Rebecca Dangelo said, Public Information Officer for ODOT District 2. "There's going to be no new projects, but there's also going to be a hit on our ability to maintain."

Over the years, the cost to build and maintain roads has been on the up and up. The unchanging gas tax is making it impossible for ODOT to keep up with inflation.

"We're just not getting the same bang for our buck," Dangelo added.

If the tax increase isn't approved, the widening of I-475 between Airport Highway and US 24 by the Maumee River will be put on the back burner until ODOT can secure funding for the project.

"Right now, where we are with funding, we don't have any funding for that, and if nothing happens, we don't anticipate any funding from that, so it could be years, it could be decades before something is built there," Dangelo said.

ODOT will then have to shift all of its energy to maintenance work, but it comes at a cost.

"We're also not going to have enough money to maintain a high level of maintenance," Dangelo said. "If we can't keep up with that early maintenance, then it's going to cost more later down the road to do a major rehab."

ODOT also told 13abc it's tried to save money in other ways. It's dropped its employment from 5,800 in 2006 to 4,800 in 2018. It also found 700 million dollars in operational savings in recent years, but unfortunately, it's not enough.

It's important to note this funding issue will not impact the widening of I-75 or the widening of I-475 between Airport and Central, including the Dorr Street Interchange.

These projects have already been funded and construction is set to get underway.