After two Republican senators chided the agency for a lack of details in a funding request. the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) requested that a $100 million item be deferred during a January 26 meeting of the Ohio Controlling Board.

Johann Klein, ODOT legislative liaison, told Controlling Board Interim President Robin McGuire Rose the agency will defer until next meeting the request seeking approval of capital funds for the construction of highway maintenance facilities through the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC). The request also seeks a more than $51 million contract with the Ohio Council of Port Authorities (OCPA).

 Sens. Bill Coley (R-West Chester) and Chris Widener (R-Springfield) both criticized ODOT for not providing enough information about specific projects in the request.

“A little vague is being generous here,” Coley said of the item, asking the department to provide detailed printouts of where facilities are being constructed, located, etc. Widener asked for a cost-benefit analysis of this plan — OCPA contracting work out to local port authorities to do construction — as opposed to ODOT directly contracting with a partner.

ODOT Facility Administrator Steve Masters said the agency has done an analysis examining ODOT/OFCC construction results compared with ODOT engaging in a public private partnership (P3) such as the one with OCPA. He said it shows that P3’s are generally more efficient.

“The P3 process has been less expensive and more responsive,” Masters said. “OFCC and ODOT have come to this point through a partnership. OFCC has told us, ‘we are at capacity and cannot … meet the demands required by this $100 million bond.’ So we have worked with them to identify alternate avenues to accomplish this and that is utilizing the P3 method that we have successfully used before. It’s not so much … that the port authorities are cheaper, it’s because OFCC is not able to meet the demands placed on them by this surge of projects.”

Widener said this information about the OFCC adds a “whole different wrinkle” to his concerns and he would like to speak with someone from OFCC about the issue. Masters said he would provide Controlling Board members with a detailed printout of all the projects and a copy of the aforementioned cost-benefit analysis.