WASHINGTON, D.C. — With critical funds to repair Ohio roads and bridges set to expire at the end of March, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called for passage of a transportation jobs bill – the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – to jump start critical infrastructure projects and keep Ohioans working. Unless the transportation jobs bill is reauthorized, Ohio will lose an estimated $1.4 billion, jeopardizing more than 50,050 Ohio jobs.
“Infrastructure investments helped attract the workers, business, and investments that made America a superpower,” Brown said. “We built the best infrastructure in the world, but have watched it crumble for decades. That’s why the Senate’s bipartisan Surface Transportation Bill Reauthorization is so important- it provides greater flexibility for states to repair aging bridges and roads while putting people to work strengthening our nation’s economic competitiveness.”
With nearly 2,800 Ohio bridges deemed “structurally deficient,” major repairs and renovations are needed throughout the state. The current law expired on September 30, 2009 and has been temporarily extended through March 31, 2012.
Brown also called on the House to reverse dangerous cuts to highway funding and to mass transit in its version of the bill. The House bill would provide Ohio with $94 million less in highway funds than the Senate version. The House bill also reverses a policy in place since the Reagan administration that sets aside funding for mass transit project, essentially slashing $160 million in funds for Ohio transit agencies. The policy change has been met with opposition from Republicans and Democrats in the House, who are working to restore funds for mass transit. The House bill would also result in more than $94 million less for other Ohio transportation projects than the Senate version of the bill next fiscal year. The Akron Beacon Journal recently described the House legislation as a “wreck of a bill.”
Specifically, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century:
- Consolidates federal programs to provide greater efficiency and flexibility so states can invest in their top priorities;
- Expands financing programs, like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance Innovation Act (TIFIA), that use federal funding to leverage private investments in transportation;
- Eliminates earmarks;
- Establishes performance measurements that emphasize an outcome-based approach to improve results and accountability; and
- Improves flexibility for transit systems to use capital funds for operating assistance.
In December 2011, Brown that would save transit jobs, prevent fare increases, and preserve mass transit service. The Local Flexibility for Transit Assistance Act would give transit agencies increased flexibility to use federal funds for operating assistance in addition to capital investments– helping to prevent layoffs, preserve service, and ensure access to affordable public transit.