Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments

What drives you crazy as you drive local roads – planners want to know

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Local motorists had the chance to vent about issues that drive them crazy as they drive through Wood and Lucas counties. Maybe it’s traffic congestion or getting stuck at railroad crossings. Maybe it’s potholes or not enough public transportation. Every five years, the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments updates its long-range transportation plan. But in order to do that, the organization needs to hear from the public. So on Thursday, a meeting was held at the Wood County District Public Library for anyone wanting to talk transportation. To keep up with transportation needs, the region must have public input, patience in the process, and more funding to design and construct infrastructure. All seem to be in short supply at times. Maps lined the room, showing some of the transportation issues tracked by TMACOG, such as: Top 50 crash intersections in the two counties. Among those were the intersections at Wooster and Main streets, and at Gypsy Lane and South Main streets in Bowling Green, plus Roachton Road and Ohio 199 in Perrysburg Township.Top 50 crash sections of roads, which included a section of Ohio 25 between Roachton and Eckel Junction; East Wooster Street from Dunbridge to Mercer roads in Bowling Green; Ohio 51 in Lake Township; Ohio 420 from the turnpike to Genoa Road; and Superior Street between Glenwood and Oregon roads in Rossford.The most congested roadways, which include Main Street and Wooster Street in Bowling Green, and U.S. 20 from Lime City to Perrysburg.Roadways with high percentages of daily commercial vehicle traffic, including U.S. 6, Ohio 199 and Interstate 75.Railways crossing the region.Bike trails and lanes.Sidewalks.Public transit options, including TARTA and Perrysburg Transit. The long range plan addresses all these modes of transportation. “In order for it to be a successful plan, we really need input,” said Dana Doubler, transportation planner with TMACOG. The planners also need patience – since some projects take decades to complete. “This is a starting point,” Doubler said. “It’s getting your foot in the door.” “None of these projects happen overnight,” said David Gedeon, vice president of transportation at TMACOG. “They take a long time to develop.” But lately, the question has been where the money will come from for big transportation projects. “There is no money for major new projects,” the Ohio Department of Transportation has been telling entities, Gedeon said. “They didn’t even take applications for projects this year,” he said. The 18 cent gas tax proposed by Gov. Mike DeWine would help restore those ODOT construction funds, Gedeon said. “We really need that transportation money to keep up,” he said. The 10.7 cents per gallon proposed by the Ohio House will not come close to meeting the needs, Gedeon said. “We just keep on kicking the can down the road,” he said. “In some cases, we know there are projets we need to do, but we just don’t have the money for it.” Eventually, different long-term solutions will be needed – since people are driving more fuel-efficient vehicles that use less gas, hybrids or electric cars which use no gas. “We’re not getting the same money from the vehicles on the roadway,” Gedeon said. TMACOG’s transportation division also looks at air quality, freight traffic issues, safety, environmental sustainability and efficiency. “It’s not bright…


Lawmakers quizzed on Lake Erie, school testing, gas taxes

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   When local officials had a chance to quiz their state legislators Wednesday, there were more questions than time for answers. Lawmakers were asked about some hot button issues like Lake Erie efforts, school testing, gas taxes, and the state’s growing rainy day fund. Fielding the questions were State Senator Randy Gardner and State Rep. Theresa Gavarone, both R-Bowling Green, plus Ohio state representatives Jim Hoops, Derek Merrin, Mike Sheehy, and Michigan state representative Jason Sheppard. Asking the questions were members of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, during the organization’s summer caucuses with state lawmakers at Penta Career Center. Acting as moderator was Wood County Commissioner Doris Herringshaw, current chairperson of TMACOG. Tim Brown, executive director of TMACOG, said the agency has a 50-year history of going beyond politics to solve problems. “We lay the politics aside, put the partisanship at the door, and talk,” Brown said. The first question was about state efforts to stop harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. While actions already taken have been appreciated, the local officials wanted to know “What’s next?” Gardner acknowledged that the work on Lake Erie is far from over. “There is no misunderstanding that we’ve done all that we can do,” he said. “We can find a way to do more and do better. We must.” Gardner said he hasn’t given up on a proposal to create a clean water bond issue. “Quite frankly, we haven’t received strong support from the governor to go forward,” he said. But Gardner is hopeful the bond issue can be revisited next year. Sheehy said environmental groups are “tired of failure” as the state struggles to find solutions. “We’ve all been saying this a long time. More needs to be done.” School officials asked about state testing requirements for students. Gavarone said testing requirements have been reduced, but more needs to be done to get timely feedback to teachers and parents, so they know how to help students. Gardner added that any testing requirements that aren’t federally mandated need to be reviewed. “They should be questioned and scrutinized as to their value,” he said. The legislators were asked about the state’s role in helping with workforce development. While Merrin said it isn’t the state legislature’s job to help create workforces, Gavarone and Gardner both offered other perspectives. Gavarone said students should be exposed to construction trades early on. “Kids need to be aware of the multitude of paths available to them after graduation,” she said. Gardner agreed that four-year colleges are just one option for Ohio’s youth. “I’m for an all-of-the-above education policy,” he said, noting the quality apprenticeship and training programs in the region. However, Gardner also said that four-year degrees still offer students the best long-run success. He suggested that the audience Google to find unemployment rates based on higher education. “You will still see the unemployment rate go down and the wages go up,” with higher degrees, he said. “We owe our children to give them the best opportunities.” Local officials also wanted to know when state leaders are going to share in some of the wealth of the state’s growing rainy day fund. Gardner said he considers local government to be an extension of state government. “We should look at what…