WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced today that Ohio will receive $30 million in new federal funds to improve transportation infrastructure in the state. The funds, which were awarded through Recovery Act's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program, will be invested in the National Gateway Project.
"The National Gateway project is good for business in our state. This project fits into Ohio's already strong network of rail, roads, rivers, and airports that have for years been an asset to companies looking to reach more than 150 million people who live within a day's drive of the state," Brown said. "This public-private partnership will create a more efficient freight transportation network that demonstrates why our state is a leader in the transportation and logistics sectors.
The National Gateway Project is aimed at building an efficient rail route linking Mid-Atlantic ports with Midwestern markets through rail infrastructure and intermodal terminal projects. The improvements will allow trains to carry double-stacked containers, increase freight capacity and make the corridor more marketable to major East Coast ports and shippers. These funds will help complete the first corridor project, from Northwest Ohio to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, through West Virginia and Maryland.
The increased capacity will provide a cost-effective alternative to long-haul trucking, directly reducing highway congestion and highway maintenance costs. The project's benefits include reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage, lower transportation costs, improved service reliability, shorter transport times, improved highway safety, and expanded access to rail services. As part of the National Gateway project, in August, 2009, the CSX Corporation held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $175 million intermodal facility in North Baltimore, Ohio. The company projects that the facility will employ 200 and could create as many as 2,600 jobs in related industries over the next decade.
In Sep. 2009, Senator Brown sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the National Gateway project grant application.
The TIGER program competitively awards funds to State and local governments for capital investments in highway or bridge projects, public transportation projects, passenger and freight rail, and port infrastructure investments. The application process for TIGER funds was extremely competitive. Nationwide, 1,380 applicants requesting more than $56.5 billion applied for a share of the $1.5 billion in authorized funds for the TIGER Discretionary Grant Program.
Brown also has been an outspoken advocate for expanded passenger rail service in Ohio, having worked with both Republican and Democratic members of Ohio's congressional delegation, federal officials, and local stakeholders. In January, Ohio was awarded more than $400 million in funds to expand high speed rail to begin work on passenger rail lines connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.