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Ohio on Course on the Road to Recovery?

December 30, 2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio is getting kudos for how its federal stimulus dollars for transportation projects are being spent. A new report from the group Policy Matters Ohio finds that no region was left out when the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds were distributed, and the most distressed counties received the lion's share of the money.

Report author Wendy Patton says the state worked hard to make sure funding got to the counties in the worst shape - both urban and rural - and in the most sparsely populated regions.

"A third of the money went to those counties; only about 16 percent of the people live in those counties. So the funding was targeted to the greatest need, and has had an effect in bolstering the economies where the need is the greatest."

Some of the biggest projects to receive funding include the Nelsonville Bypass in Athens and Hocking counties, the Cleveland Innerbelt Project and the Riverfront Project in Cincinnati.

According to the report, more new highway miles are being built in Ohio than the national average using stimulus funding. However, Patton says, building new highway projects typically does not create as many jobs as fixing roads and bridges.

"We're hoping in the next jobs bill, in the next distribution of transportation spending, more attention is paid to investments in public transit and in repair of aging infrastructure, because that creates more jobs."

Patton thinks the state also could invest more in mass transit. She says that spurs economic development by helping families and creating diverse job opportunities.

"There's almost nothing the state can do that helps individuals with their household budgets at a time of economic distress like public transportation. The good thing about it, is that it also creates more jobs than any other kind of transit spending."

The report can be found at www.policymattersohio.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH