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New roads, bridges headed to Ohio once Infrastructure Investment and Job Act signed into law

Biden Infrastructure
Posted at 4:44 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 19:12:29-05

CLEVELAND — For decades Ohioans have paid the cost for bad infrastructure, according to the White House. On average, each driver pays $506 per year in costs due to driving on roads in need of repair and there are 1,377 bridges and over 4,925 miles of highway in poor condition, roads that the American Society of Civil Engineers gives a grade of C- and our bridges a D.

Ohio can expect to see $9.2 billion for its highway work and another near half-billion for bridges in the just-passed infrastructure package but there's more.

"I see that there's going to be a lot of benefit in the city of Cleveland for the people of Cleveland,” said Nuria Fernandez, Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.

One area is helping RTA to modernize its rapid transit system, 16% of the state's trains and transit vehicles are past their useful life. Each RTA rail car costs $3 million to replace.

"I had an opportunity to visit with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit district and their infrastructure is at a place where they are making decisions about how they're going to be replacing those assets and this funding will allow them to do that and do it much sooner than later,” she told News 5.

There will be $140 million over five years to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network, $100 million to help provide broadband coverage across the state, and $1.4 billion over five years to improve water infrastructure to deliver clean drinking water.

There's money to improve our nation's airports which could play into Cleveland Hopkins 20 year plan for $2 billion in upgrades to the aging facility. An airport by the way that would be a planned stop on Amtrak's proposed “3C plus D” expansion adding rail service from Cleveland to Cincinnati via Columbus and Dayton.

Mayor Frank Jackson met with Amtrak's President and its CEO in May to discuss the plan. While $66 billion has now been approved in the package for projects like this, the state would still have to sign off and earlier this year Governor Mike DeWine said it was too early to do that.

"I think we have to know more,” DeWine said on April 8. “We have to know what the state's involvement would be, what kind of costs it would be for the state so I don't think that's clear so I would certainly reserve judgment until we get more information about it."

There has of course been talk in the past about re-establishing a rail connection between these key Ohio cities. In 2010 the Obama administration offered the state $400 million to build a high-speed rail line between them. Then-Governor Ted Strickland initially said yes but when he lost his re-election bid new Governor John Kasich said no citing the costs down the road to the state and the fact that the high-speed rail line would move at an average speed of 39 miles per hour.

One key difference this time, supporters like Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley argued on that May call is it will be Amtrak taking the lead on this.

"Ten years ago it was more state-driven then, Amtrak driving makes this a key difference than before,” she said.

Amtrak projects there would be up to 500,000 riders a year on the line. In addition, the expansion would see Cleveland be more of a hub for increased service across the country.