WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced today that Portage Area Regional Transit Authority will receive $20 million in new federal funds to build a transportation center in Kent. The funds, which were awarded through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary Grant Program, were authorized by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA).

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.

“This investment will not only improve transportation services in the area, but will also increase efficiency, create employment opportunities, and promote business growth,” Brown said in a Nov. 2009 letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in support of the project. “The economic incentives afforded by the initiative will benefit the region, the state and the nation for many generations to come.”

This grant will assist in the construction of a multi-modal building fitted with solar panels to include commercial space, a parking garage, bus bays, and bicycle storage to improve transit accessibility in Kent and link the area to Cleveland and Akron. While connecting the Kent State University walkway with the city, this project will lay the groundwork to leverage thousands of dollars in private investment to revitalize the downtown Kent community.

The project will improve travel options to Kent through the construction of a facility with 10 bus bays, an indoor waiting area, public restrooms, automobile parking, a passenger pickup/drop-off area, an outdoor waiting area, and a bicycle storage area. The new facility encourages the use of transit, expands community access, and will encourage economic development in the city. This project has been estimated to create 70 immediate construction jobs and will pave the way for 700 permanent jobs.  The multi-modal center would serve Kent, Portage County, Summit County, and Cleveland. 

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. In October 2009, Sen. Brown led a bipartisan group of 14 members of the Ohio Delegation in sending a letter to the Department of Transportation, urging that Ohio be strongly considered for the award.