WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has helped secure language to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations package currently being considered by the Senate to bolster transportation projects in central Ohio. The bill now includes $6 million to expand testing of new low-emission and zero-emission buses, like those currently tested at The Ohio State University (OSU). OSU is one of just two testing centers in the nation that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will use to undertake the work.
Brown also secured language directing the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to solicit applications to add additional proving grounds for autonomous vehicles, in an effort to add OSU’s Transportation Research Center (TRC) as a proving ground pilot site. TRC, North America’s largest, independent automotive proving ground, already serves as a testing site for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“Central Ohio has already set itself apart as a national hub for transportation research and innovation,” said Brown. “These provisions will help bolster local efforts to raise the bar even higher. I’ll continue fighting for these priorities as the bill moves forward.”
Brown – who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees FTA – has worked to secure important transportation wins for central Ohio.
In March, Brown announced a $2 million federal investment to allow manufacturers of electric, fuel cell and other low-emission vehicles to bring their new models to Ohio for testing. Previously, all testing of new bus models had to be conducted at a single oversubscribed facility in Pennsylvania. Allowing OSU and TRC to conduct testing will speed the delivery of low-emission buses to public transportation agencies working to reduce fuel consumption and improve air quality. In earlier legislation, Brown secured $15 million for the testing of low-emission bus components. OSU was selected as just one of two universities to conduct the testing, and OSU has received $1.5 million under the initial grant.
In 2016, Brown worked closely with Columbus, central Ohio businesses, and community leaders to secure the designation of Columbus at DOT’s Smart City. As the winner of the competition Columbus secured $40 million from DOT and $10 million from Vulcan Inc. to develop a first-of-its-kind transportation network. A local investment of $90 million has been pledged to match the $50 million award, resulting in $140 million of new investment to change the mobility landscape of Columbus.