Ohio highway officials shift funds to I-75 project

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CLEVELAND (AP) -- Highway officials in Ohio are shifting about $67 million left over from a Cleveland construction project to widening a stretch of Interstate 75 south of Toledo.

The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission voted Monday to shift some of the money it had approved for construction of the Interstate 90 Inner Belt Bridge over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland to the I-75 project in Hancock and Wood counties.

The Ohio Department of Transportation plans to widen a crash-prone, 25-mile section of I-75 from two lanes to three lanes in each direction, according to The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (http://bit.ly/OOV7IW ).

Construction of that stretch is expected to cost $68.3 million more than the $366.5 million that was originally estimated.

Meanwhile, the bid for other road work that got turnpike funding, the I-90 eastbound bridge in Cleveland, came in at $273 million, or $67 million less than the $340 million allocated. Moving that money to the I-75 project made up for the shortfall.

The two projects were among 10 across northern Ohio that got a combined $930 million in funding in the turnpike's first venture into financing projects off the toll road. The turnpike issued $1 billion in bonds but kept $70 million for repairs and construction along the toll road.

Turnpike commissioners voted last summer to issue bonds to speed along road and bridge work that might have been delayed for years because of a lack of money. Toll increases over the next decade will be used to pay off the bonds.

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Information from: The Plain Dealer, http://www.cleveland.com