TEN IDEAS: Convert State Route 8 to Interstate 380

Route 8 is the major artery of our State House district. It cuts through Cuyahoga Falls, Silver Lake, Stow, Hudson, Macedonia and Northfield.

By connecting the Akron interchange with the Ohio Turnpike, it has become a critical piece of infrastructure. It holds three lanes of traffic for 18 miles.  It holds 120,000 cars per day, and it is Ohio’s busiest non-Interstate roadway. The freeway will soon undergo a 3-year rebuild project, at a cost of $48 million.

If it didn’t get constructed in a piecemeal fashion, it would be a federal interstate already. Instead, it’s a state route. And as a state route, the maintenance obligations for Route 8 fall on the municipalities in which it lies. And unfortunately, our communities cannot adequately exploit the freeway’s economic value, being only a state route. To an out-of-state employer, perhaps with logistical concerns, being located nearby a state route just doesn’t have the same ring as being adjacent to an Interstate.

If I am elected, I will seek to include in the 2019-20 biennial budget bill a provision to re-designate State Route 8 as Interstate 380. I will draw bipartisan support for this concept.

If the legislature forces designation of Route 8 to Interstate 380, then it will go to the federal DOT for approval. This will result in significant savings to our local governments, who no longer need to own expensive freeway equipment and can reduce training costs. It will lead to more safety for our municipal employees. Interstate 380 will assist us in economic development. An out-of-state employer’s interest will be piqued by the concept of moving within a half-mile of an Interstate. A state route? Not so much.

Unlike many of my “10 idea” proposals, this isn’t a new idea. Republican and Democrat officeholders from Akron to Macedonia have worked on this before. But I’m going to make this a priority, as an insert into the 2019-20 budget.

Now, for some inside baseball. … There’s a benefit for this district to elect a Republican to the State House. Why? Because everyone agrees that Republicans will control the State House next term (currently, it’s 66-33 Republican advantage). For the 37th District to elect a back-bench member of the minority party, it will be a setback for the region’s priorities, including Interstate 380. As a Republican, I will urge our next Speaker that this provision needs to be included in the budget–and I believe he will listen.