CLEVELAND — State orders continue to force Ohioans to stay home meaning fewer cars are out on the roads and filling up at the pump. In fact, ODOT reports a 46 percent drop in traffic across the state just last week alone and it’s the same in Northeast Ohio.
“Northeast Ohio—which would be the Cleveland, Akron over to Youngstown area—that was down 46 percent,” said ODOT Spokesperson Matt Bruning. “Even on the weekends we’re in the upper 50s.”
There are roughly 200 traffic count stations across the state. One of them sits in downtown Cleveland on the George V. Voinovich bridge. Bruning said on average 152,000 vehicles travel across the bridge on Interstate-90, but on Monday the average was 80,000.
According to Governor Mike DeWine, the drop in traffic is being felt at the pump. He says gas consumption is down 30 to 40 percent.
“That would obviously impact our budget,” Bruning said.
Part of ODOT’s budget depends on the gas tax revenue, which goes into maintaining roads and bridges. While less gas consumption doesn’t help, Bruning said it’s not clear how much of the department’s budget will suffer.
“That gallon of gas that you pump today we won’t really see the revenue from tax on that until a couple of months down the road so we really don’t know exactly what the impact is going to be right now,” Bruning said. “The key is just going to be 'how long?' and 'what will the impact be?' and right now as we sit here we just don’t know.”
So far Bruning said they’re in good shape. He said crews are focusing on maintenance work like pumping out storm drains, permanently filling potholes and managing future projects.
“There’s a lot of essential traffic that still have to drive on the roads and bridges and so it’s important for us to be out there keeping those in good repair and making any adjustments we need,” he said. “We are doing some things that we normally wouldn’t be able to do except for the overnight hours, we're able to do those now in the daytime because of the lower traffic volumes.”
As crews continue to work, Bruning is urging those traveling to help keep workers safe by moving over and slowing down.
“We had a crew hit just last week in Hancock County. We’ve had nine crews struck since Valentine’s Day. That’s just unacceptable,” he said. “They’re continuing to work so we can get those vital services and those vital people to their jobs and where they need to go. All we ask is that you just keep our people safe.”