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Regional Leaders Coming Together for Renewed Focus on Infrastructure Investment

    July 31, 2018

    One of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s (MORPC’s) primary public policy goals is to achieve an advanced and exceptional transportation system that connects Central Ohio’s people and products to the world. Yet this goal isn’t achievable without the necessary funding resources.

    As a convener of local governments, MORPC is strategically aligned to address this issue. This summer, MORPC is bringing together a leadership strategy group to discuss funding mechanisms that can measurably improve our transportation network in the region and state. The group includes various past and present leaders on MORPC’s board, including elected officials, city managers, development officials, and others.

    “It’s a common consensus among those at all levels of government and in both parties that something must be done to adequately fund transportation and infrastructure. As Central Ohio’s population grows and infrastructure needs stretch beyond existing funding levels, finding long-term funding mechanisms is essential. That’s why we want to have the conversation.”
    MORPC Executive Director William Murdock

    The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the nation a grade of D+ for the condition of transit, highway, bridge, rail, water and other infrastructure. According to ASCE, the U.S. would need to invest $4.59 trillion by 2025 to improve its infrastructure grade. Furthermore, at the state level, Ohio’s motor vehicle fuel tax rate has remained at 28 cents per gallon since 2005, forcing local governments to find new tools for funding.

    Ohio’s next governor, the Ohio General Assembly, and the United State Congress will all begin their work anew in January 2019. This provides the opportunity to create and spark a narrative around maintaining existing infrastructure, investing in new technology, and positioning Ohio for economic development.

    President Trump unveiled his infrastructure proposal earlier this year, which began a national dialogue regarding the need for infrastructure investment. MORPC viewed the president’s proposal as an important starting point, but became concerned with the reduced federal share in projects and the increase in the financial burden for states and localities. The proposal has gone nowhere.

    Last week, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, who is retiring at the end of the current Congress, released a broad proposal that seeks to provide short- and long-term solvency for the Highway Trust Fund and make other changes to federal transportation. The purpose of his draft was to raise essential issues and introduce potential solutions.

    The discussions of MORPC’s leadership strategy group are focused on innovative revenue streams and cost-savings measures, how to educate state government officials on the need for infrastructure investment, and the best strategies to position Ohio for long-term success.

    The group will finish its work in September, with the goal of sharing its conclusions with key stakeholders at the state and federal levels during the fall – along with a possible action steps the commission and local governments can take.

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