With summer drawing to a close, school buses are taking to Ohio roads once again to signal the start of a busy fall season.
I am excited to share with you several recent initiatives by the Ohio state legislature aimed toward improving the safety and efficiency of Ohio’s transportation system.
Earlier in 2013, the legislature approved the state’s biennial transportation budget legislation in March of this year – a $7.6 billion investment in Ohio’s transportation system over the next two years. The Governor signed the budget into law on April 1 and the law’s provisions became effective on July 1.
These provisions include the Turnpike Plan, which will provide up to $3 billion to fund a variety of important infrastructure projects across the state.  Also included in the legislation is the Nexus provision, which ensures that 90 percent of the money raised through turnpike bonding will be spent on projects right here in Northern Ohio. This investment is expected to create up to 65,000 jobs over the next two years.
The budget also increased highway speed to 70 miles per hour for certain rural sections of Ohio interstates. The bill also lowers the late fee for vehicle registration from $20 to $10 and allows for the multi-year registration of certain vehicles.
We also included many new safety provisions within the budget.  As of July 1, there must be a stop sign (or yield sign, at the discretion of the Ohio Department of Transportation) at all railroad crossings where passive warning devices (lights or gates) do not currently exist.
Senate Bill 137, of which I am currently a cosponsor, also aims to improve safety on Ohio roadways.  S.B. 137 would require drivers to move over or slow down upon approaching particular highway construction vehicles.  While Ohio law currently requires drivers to move over or drastically reduce their speed when approaching a law enforcement or emergency response vehicle, S.B.137 would extend that safeguard to stationary highway maintenance vehicles and Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO) inspection vehicles.
I believe this particular piece of legislation will serve as an additional safeguard to protect workers and drivers during highway maintenance and inspections.  Approved by the Senate in June of this year, S.B. 137 now awaits consideration in the House.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if ever I can be of assistance with any state government-related issue.  I wish you and yours a safe and festive fall season.

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