Ohio Group Urges Expanded Transit for "Silicon Heartland"
Thursday, February 3, 2022
With Intel's plans to make central Ohio the Silicon Heartland, public-transportation advocates are calling on leaders to ensure development plans include multimodal transportation options.
The tech giant announced a plan to build a $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing plant near Columbus, which already is home to data centers for Google and Facebook, as well as Amazon warehouses.
Josh Lapp, chair of Transit Columbus, said with an initial 3,000 jobs expected to be created, considerations need to be made to maximize access.
"So we have this chance, right now, right now is the time, the inflection point to really plan for and invest in a different type of growth," Josh Lapp asserted. "That includes transit and pedestrians and cyclists and more walkable communities."
Ohio committed nearly $700 million in local infrastructure improvements, including $290 million to support transportation issues related to the Intel Facility. Given the historic nature of the investment, Lapp contended state funding should focus on minimizing congestion and promoting sensible land use.
Lapp added local and state leaders are being encouraged to create robust transit infrastructure to connect individuals of all income levels to the jobs developed around the area.
"Whether it's a larger-scale regional bus service that's run by COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority), whether it's further investments in things like Go-Bus that connects rural communities or investments and things like Amtrak that would help on a regional scale," Lapp outlined. "That's the core of what needs done and something that our state and our region is just not doing."
He urged leaders to get ahead of challenges faced by burgeoning cities such as Austin, Texas, which is struggling with affordable housing and other issues tied to rapid growth.
Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.
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