WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, the President signed into law a spending package that includes several key wins for Ohio’s transportation infrastructure that U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped secure.
“It’s time to put Americans to work across Ohio and around the country rebuilding our roads and bridges. This funding measure is a good step toward the infrastructure investment our nation needs,” said Brown. “Ohio is positioned to be a leader in zero-emission transportation solutions, and this bill expands work by The Ohio State University to research and test zero-emission buses.”
The Ohio transportations wins include:
- Supplemental Highway and Public Transportation Investments: Brown helped secure $781 million of supplemental funding for eligible projects under the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, which can be used for highway repairs, local transportation improvements and alternative fuel corridors. Ohio’s share of the additional $781 million will be based on current formula programs.
- Brown also supported the $1.15 billion for bridge replacement and rehabilitation to repair and replace deficient bridges, a portion of which will be allocated to Ohio bridges. Brown has led bipartisan efforts to secure much larger federal investments in repairing and replacing deficient bridges. Ohio has more than 6,000 bridges that need structural repairs or other updates to make them safer and reduce congestion.
- The bill also includes $1 billion for investments in surface transportation infrastructure that are awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact that is commonly referred to at the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program (formerly the TIGER program).
- Brown also successfully urged the Committee to provide $510 million from the general fund for transit infrastructure grants, which will support efforts by Ohio transit agencies to the replace buses and vans that have reached the end of their service life.
- OSU and the Transportation Research Center (TRC): Brown secured $3 million of additional funding for the testing of low-emission and zero-emission buses. The Ohio State University (OSU) and the university-affiliated Transportation Research Center (TRC) in East Liberty operate one of just two testing centers in the nation that the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will utilize to undertake the work. Brown – who serves as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, which oversees FTA has secured funding for low and zero-emission bus testing for the past two fiscal years. Allowing OSU and TRC to conduct bus testing will speed the delivery of low-emission buses to public transportation agencies working to reduce fuel consumption and improve air quality. Brown was previously instrumental in obtaining a grant for The Ohio State University for testing components of zero-emission buses.
- Amtrak Station Agents: In June 2018, Amtrak closed the ticket window and removed ticket agents from all of its stations that had an annual ridership of fewer than 40 passengers daily. Cincinnati’s Union Terminal fell below that threshold and lost its ticket agent, leaving only maintenance staff. Brown and Portman wrote to Amtrak urging them to reverse this decision, and Brown has led legislative efforts to reverse the decision. The FY19 bill partially restored staffing at some stations, and in this year’s bill, Brown helped secure language that directs Amtrak to re-staff all stations that were staffed in FY 2018 and instructing them to improve communication and collaboration with local partners and consider the unique needs of each community when making decisions related to staffing Amtrak stations.
- Prevented Harmful Cut to Ohio transit funding: Brown helped lead efforts to pass the Jones-McSally amendment on the Senate floor to prevent a $1.2 billion cut to public transportation funding, and the amendment is included in the final bill. The Senate passed the Jones-McSally Amendment by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 82-11. The amendment prevents implementation of an unnecessary, across-the-board funding cut of 12% to all public transportation formula programs administered by USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Ohio transit agencies would have lost more than $24 million of funding if the cut had been implemented.
Brown will continue leading efforts to ensure Ohioans have key investments in transportation and infrastructure.