The Van Wert County Courthouse

Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018

Brown: U.S. infrastructure fixes needed

Submitted information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) this week joined colleagues in proposing a new plan to create jobs and invest in American infrastructure.

Bridge repair, like that done on the Harner Road Bridge in Van Wert County back in 2015, would be a priority under U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown’s infrastructure measure. VW independent file photo

Brown has offered to work with President Trump to pass bipartisan legislation to address the nation’s infrastructure needs, rather than passing the cost on to drivers, cities and communities through local tax hikes and tolls. Trump’s long awaited infrastructure proposal announced last month relies on tolling to attract private investment and “leveraging” dollars from states and local communities — which would require local tax hikes.

“Ohio communities are already strapped for resources and they need our help to rebuild roads and bridges, and get lead paint out of houses,” said Brown. “President Trump promised to rebuild our infrastructure with American iron and steel made by American workers. That’s what this plan will do, without passing the cost on to communities and working families through tolls and tax hikes, and I hope the President will work with us to make good on his promise.”

The plan includes a new competitive grant program for bridges as proposed by Brown’s Bridge Investment Act. The plan includes $40 billion for bridge repair grants. It would fund significant projects like the Brent Spence replacement, as well as smaller bridge repair projects across Ohio. Additional funding for bridge repairs is supported by new highway formula funding under the plan. Of the 27,345 bridges in Ohio, more than 1,600 are classified as “structurally deficient” and approximately 4,700 are classified as “functionally obsolete.” The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates there is a $123 billion bridge repair backlog nationally, with $27 billion of bridge repair needs identified in Ohio.

Key Ohio Infrastructure Stats:

  • Ohio has the nation’s fourth largest interstate system with 6,700 lane miles.
  • Nearly a quarter of Ohio’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
  • Ohio’s public transportation agencies serve more than 300,000 passengers every weekday.
  • An estimated 109,000 Ohioans work in highway construction in the state.
  • An estimated $14 billion will need to be spent to keep Ohio’s wastewater systems up to date over the next 20 years.

Brown’s plan also includes the following Ohio priorities:

Supporting American Steel and Iron

Brown’s plan would ensure that Buy America rules apply to all taxpayer-funded public works and infrastructure projects based on the bipartisan bill Brown introduced. It also includes bipartisan legislation Brown introduced to create the “BuyAmerican.gov” website for waivers.

Repairing Ohio Roads

The plan calls for $97 billion in new investments in highways and bridges. In addition, the plan provides $40 billion for a Vital Infrastructure Program (VIP) to fund megaprojects and transformative investments in transportation infrastructure.

Improving Public Transportation

The plan calls for $115 billion to replace and expand rail and bus systems. Sixty percent of the state’s buses will need to be retired and replaced in the next 10 years, a $750 million expense, and the Cleveland rail system needs $400 million to replace its fleet of rail cars and repair tracks.

As ranking member of the Senator Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee – which oversees public transit — Brown has worked to boost federal funding for public transit.

Modernizing Water Infrastructure

Brown’s plan would invest $115 billion to modernize water & sewer systems. It also includes Brown’s bipartisan bill to provide local communities with increased flexibility when complying with Clean Water Act requirements.

For several years, Brown has worked on legislation that would provide communities with grants to help make needed updates to combined sewer overflow systems. This would protect Lake Erie and other drinking water from untreated waste and ensure that ratepayers do not face costly rate hikes.

Rebuilding Ohio Schools

The plan calls for $50 billion in funding to assist states, school districts, and community colleges in closing the funding gaps in school infrastructure. The plan calls for $40 billion for school construction and modernization projects, similar to Brown’s School Building Improvement Act, and $10 billion for modernizing community college campuses.

Eliminating Blight & Lead Hazards 

The plan provides $62 billion for Neighborhood Revitalization, Lead Remediation, and Affordable Housing. A quarter of all renters –including 400,000 families in Ohio alone – pay more than half of their incomes towards housing. Brown’s plan includes investments to preserve and create affordable rental housing for families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. It also invests in neighborhood revitalization initiatives like Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to help Ohio cities and small towns address blighted properties and create housing and economic opportunities for their residents. In addition, the plan will help prevent childhood lead poisoning by remediating hazards caused by deteriorating lead paint in older homes

Brown has led efforts to protect Ohio children from lead exposure and worked to boost funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for monitoring and remediation.

Brown was instrumental in strengthening the Hardest Hit Fund, which has provided communities funding to prevent foreclosure and demolish blighted properties.

Brown has advocated for funding to preserve and create affordable housing and worked to strengthen the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

POSTED: 03/10/18 at 9:00 am. FILED UNDER: News