Similar Articles
News   |   Feb 27, 2018
MORPC Leaders Advocate for the Region in Washington

MORPC Views Federal Infrastructure Proposal as Important Starting Point

February 14, 2018
Investment in Projects will Assist Growing Region

With the unveiling of the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) appreciates the national dialogue regarding the critical role federal investment plays in supporting local and regional infrastructure needs. MORPC views the proposal as an important starting point and is encouraged that a bipartisan infrastructure investment bill can be reached.

MORPC serves the fastest-growing region in Ohio, which is expected to increase by up to one million people by 2050. In order to prepare for such substantial growth and the future challenges that are a result of the increase in population, it is important that Central Ohio plan ahead for the infrastructure needs of today and tomorrow.

“Federal funds are critical for the region to maintain the infrastructure we have and build more for our growing region. We need new resources to invest in innovative projects to give Central Ohio a competitive advantage in the years ahead.”
MORPC Executive Director William Murdock

As an agency serving local governments, MORPC is concerned with the reduced federal share in projects and the increase in the financial burden for states and localities. $200 billion in federal spending is called for in the plan, with the remaining $1.3 trillion to be generated by state and local governments, as well as private investors. Current highway funding programs usually require a local share of 20-40%, while this proposal calls for the federal share to be 20%. While this is great leveraging for the federal government, it may provide hardships to communities that are already struggling to address their infrastructure needs.

Furthermore, in order to pay for the plan, money would be cut from grant programs such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. Central Ohio has succeeded in national competitive grant programs such as TIGER and the Smart City Challenge, and keeping TIGER provides a competitive advantage for the region rather than solely formula-based funding programs.

MORPC is optimistic about regulatory reforms that could accelerate the time it takes for projects to be completed and has outlined some of the proposed funding in new programs within the infrastructure proposal that would have a direct impact on projects in Central Ohio:

  • Infrastructure Incentives Program — $100 billion in funds distributed by U.S. DOT, EPA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Local and state share of funding would be at least 80%, with additional credit given to projects with a higher non-federal share and from state or local funding sources that were raised most recently.Funds from the Infrastructure Incentives Program could be invested in Competitive Advantage Projects, an initiative of Columbus 2020 and MORPC, to identify and advance strategic infrastructure investments across Central Ohio.Counties within the Columbus Region identify Competitive Advantage Projects as local priorities to advance economic and community development. The projects range from large scale highway improvements to rural water and sewer systems. The projects are regularly shared with members of the U.S. Congress and the Ohio General Assembly to communicate the priorities of the region. View projects identified to date with our interactive map.
  • Rural Infrastructure Project — $50 billion to fund rural projects, $40 billion of which would be distributed as block grants by formula to states based on total mileage of rural roads and rural population. The remaining $10 billion would fund “rural performance grants” for states that have prepared comprehensive reports of rural infrastructure.
    MORPC recently partnered with seven counties in nonmetropolitan areas of our region (Fairfield, Knox, Madison, Marion, Morrow, Pickaway, and Union) to plan for rural transportation needs through the
    Central Ohio Rural Planning Organization (CORPO). Funds from the Rural Infrastructure Project could be utilized to fund projects identified through this planning process.  CORPO is a partnership with the Ohio Department of Transportation, which should help prepare the state for being competitive with rural performance grants. 
  • Transformative Projects Fund — $20 billion in funds to support innovative projects that would otherwise have a hard time attracting private capital. This fund would support three tracks of projects: demonstration projects (30% federal share), planning (50% federal share), and capital construction (80% federal share).
    Hyperloop is a new innovative mode of transportation that moves freight and people quickly and safely. Funds from the Transformative Projects Fund could provide investment to advance projects like the
    Hyperloop Midwest Connect Initiative that plans to connect Pittsburgh, Columbus, and Chicago.
Sign up to receive our News & Events
Which MORPC newsletters would you like to receive?