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Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System

Posted by Content Coordinator on Friday, July 10th, 2015

Executive Summary

Ohio’s extensive system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit provides the state’s residents, visitors and businesses with a high level of mobility. This transportation system forms the backbone that supports the state’s economy and quality of life for all Ohioans.

As Ohio looks to retain its businesses, maintain its level of economic competitiveness and achieve further economic growth, the state will need to continue to maintain and modernize its roads, highways and bridges by improving the physical condition of its transportation network and enhancing the system’s ability to provide efficient, safe and reliable mobility for motorists and businesses. Making needed improvements to Ohio’s transportation system could also provide a boost to the state’s economy by creating jobs in the short term and stimulating long term economic growth as a result of enhanced mobility and access.

Located within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the United States and Canada, Ohio must continue to improve its transportation system to foster economic growth and keep and attract businesses. In addition to economic growth, transportation improvements are needed to ensure safe, reliable mobility. Meeting Ohio’s need to further modernize and maintain its transportation system of roads, highways, bridges and public transit will require significant local, state and federal funding.

In the face of stagnant transportation revenue growth, Ohio has been able to increase its construction investment in the state’s roads, highways and bridges from $1.6 billion in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2014 and 2015. This was achieved by reducing operating costs through staff attrition and streamlining, modernizing budgeting practices, allowing greater flexibility to modify projects, improving the efficiency of project design and delivery, and the 2013 approval of the use of Ohio Turnpike bonds on transportation projects.

But the recently adopted state transportation budget reduces annual state highway and bridge construction spending to $1.9 billion in 2016 (contingent on the sale of Turnpike toll-backed bonds) and to $1.7 billion in 2017.

Increases in state transportation investment have kept Ohio’s state-maintained roads, highways and bridges largely in acceptable or good condition and have allowed numerous, needed road, highway and bridge projects to proceed. Despite this, the state faces an $11.6 billion backlog in needed but unfunded road, highway and bridge improvements.

Ohio also faces the following transportation challenges: improving the condition of locally-maintained roads, highways and bridges; maintaining the condition of state-maintained roads, highways and bridges; improving roadway safety; relieving traffic congestion; and, providing additional highway access to support economic growth. The state’s ability to address these challenges could be jeopardized by uncertainty in the future levels of federal transportation funding.

Achieving Ohio’s goals for a modern, well-maintained and safe transportation system will require significant transportation investment at the local, state and federal level.

Despite the lack of recent increases in state or federal transportation revenues, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been able to boost annual spending on roads, highways and bridges over the last four years through operational improvements and the use of bonds backed by the Ohio Turnpike. This increased investment has allowed Ohio to keep state-maintained roads, highways and bridges largely in acceptable condition. However, it has not been adequate to close a shortfall in needed transportation improvements in the state.

  • ODOT has been able to increase its construction investment in the state’s roads, highways and bridges from $1.6 billion in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2014 and 2015.
  • The recently adopted state transportation budget reduces state highway and bridge construction spending to $1.9 billion in 2016 (contingent on the sale of Turnpike toll-backed bonds) and to $1.7 billion in 2017.
  • ODOT has made available an additional $182.5 million annually for roadway improvements through increased staff efficiency, the adoption of zero based budgeting standards which reduced the need to carry significant cash balances, by allowing greater flexibility to modify projects, and by improving the efficiency of project design and delivery.
  • In 2013 the Ohio General Assembly approved the use of Ohio Turnpike bond proceeds with the provision that 90 percent of the revenue be used on transportation projects within 75 miles of the Turnpike.
  • ODOT has an $11.6 billion backlog in needed road, highway and bridge improvements, which are currently unfunded.
  • Ohio faces a significant challenge in improving the condition of locally-maintained roads, highways and bridges; maintaining the condition of state-maintained roads, highways and bridges; improving roadway safety, particularly on rural roads; relieving traffic congestion; and, providing additional highway access needed to support economic growth.

Road Conditions in Ohio

Download full version (PDF): Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System

About TRIP
www.tripnet.org
Founded in 1971, TRIP ® of Washington, DC, is a nonprofit organization that researches, evaluates and distributes economic and technical data on surface transportation issues. TRIP is sponsored by insurance companies, equipment manufacturers, distributors and suppliers; businesses involved in highway and transit engineering and construction; labor unions; and organizations concerned with efficient and safe surface transportation.

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