CLEVELAND — With many Ohioans still working from home, traffic is down, which means less money spent on gas.
That’s a good thing for drivers, but for the Ohio Department of Transportation that means less money generated from the gas tax. The speed bump in revenue could leave some projects stuck in neutral, or even unable to get out of park.
For now, no projects have been completely scrapped. ODOT said they had to get a little creative while balancing their 2020 budget.
Two projects underway in Columbus and Cincinnati had different phases that were rescheduled for fiscal year 2021.
The rescheduling doesn’t mean that the work has been completely pushed off to next year. Fiscal year 2021 began on July 1st.
“So really, where you’re going to see the biggest change is to projects that maybe would enhance capacity,” ODOT press secretary Matt Bruning said.
ODOT will continue to evaluate their construction schedule to see if there are any more projects that can be moved or rescheduled.
For state fiscal year 2020, which ended on June 30, actual motor fuel tax revenue was off about $239 million from original estimates. ODOT's share was $154 million under original estimates.
“Our situation isn't great right now, but it would be a lot worse in the state motor fuel tax,” Bruning said. “If we didn't have that gas tax it would be a lot tougher to do the things we're expected to do like maintaining the roads in good condition and even getting to those safety projects.”
During the peak of the pandemic, traffic volume was down 49% from pre-pandemic levels.
Despite a rebound since June, current traffic volumes have consistently remained around 15% below average.