CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Debate continues over the proposal to increase Ohio’s gas tax by 18 cents a gallon.
The change, which is now in the hands of lawmakers, has met roadblocks, with many unwilling to commit to raising the state’s gas tax to a total of 43 cents a gallon.
However, the Ohio Department of Transportation said that not passing the hike will impact its ability to complete projects in the Cleveland area, including a proposed realignment to Dead Man’s Curve, which would soften the curve on I-90 near downtown, in an attempt to make it safer.
"Everyone knows there's crashes in the area, there's congestion in the area, we want to make sure it's easy for economic access for future growth in that area," said Brent Kovacs with ODOT.
It’s not just this project that’s on the line. ODOT says the gas tax will help fund a trio of planned improvement phases around Cleveland, which total $1.5 billion over the next decade or so.
However, they say they cannot move forward with any of those plans before the tax is approved. They say the 10.8 cents per gallon raise, which House members proposed this week, is not enough to do that.
Ohio has not raised its gas tax since 2005. Last year, it brought in about $1.93 billion statewide, although not all that money goes to ODOT.
Kovacs said that the money ODOT receives from the gas tax goes to improve roads and bridges across Ohio.
He said they’ll have to replace some old bridges near Dead Man’s Curve in the coming years, whether they get the funding for the realignment or not.
“And then when we get funding to realign Dead Man’s Curve, no matter how many years down the road, we’re going to have to rip out those bridges that we just put in to accommodate the realignment and put new bridges up again. So it’s a catch-22 because we have to get work done, but we can’t do the work in the proper way, which in the end is going to cost more money,” Kovacs said.