Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump failed on promises to secure funding to repair the 50-year-old Brent Spence Bridge spanning the Ohio River at Cincinnati. (Atony-22/Wikimedia Commons)

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service – OH – Producer, Contact

Nick Bates, outreach director for One Ohio Now

The White House is detailing its goals for improving Ohio’s infrastructure through the American Jobs Plan.

According to a fact sheet released Monday, Ohio has more than 1,300 bridges and nearly 5,000 miles of highway in poor condition that would benefit from the proposal’s $115 billion national investment road and bridge repair. A 2021 infrastructure report card gave Ohio a grade of “C-minus.”

Nick Bates, outreach director for One Ohio Now, said the president’s proposal to include $85 billion for public transportation is a welcome investment.

“So many people, in not just urban areas but rural areas as well, rely on public transit to go to and from work, to get to the grocery store and to be connected to their community,” Bates explained. “So those investments to make sure that people around the state can stay connected will be essential.”

According to the White House, Ohio will benefit from $13 billion for drinking water infrastructure over the next two decades and a national investment of $200 billion to increase the availability of affordable housing.

Critics question the use of corporate tax increases to pay for the $2.7 trillion plan, which they argue is too broad.

Bates is also excited to see the plan will invest $100 billion to expand broadband, which is out of reach for 14% of Ohioans. 

“Infrastructure is more than just bridges and roads,” Bates contended. “It has to include things like broadband access. I have two kids, and watching them and their classmates struggle to learn digitally with the pandemic, having spotty internet connections and no internet connections, made that task even more difficult.”

Ohio passed an increase in the state fuel tax in 2019 for road and bridge repairs, which Bates argued was just the first of many steps needed to address the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

He pointed out infrastructure often requires the federal government to step in.

“Public projects of the 1930s and ’40s built up a lot of the infrastructure, expanding electricity into parts of the country that never had it before,” Bates recounted. “We can look at the original development of our interstate highway system.”

The plan also invests in clean-energy jobs, manufacturing, home energy, child care and caregiving jobs.

Reporting by Ohio News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.Citation: American Jobs PlanCitation: Ohio fact sheetCitation: Infrastructure report cardCitation: Ohio broadband reportCitation: State fuel tax increase 2019

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman is an Ohio-based broadcast journalist who joined the Public News Service team in 2008. Previous experience includes radio news reporting and anchoring for WHIO-AM in Dayton and WTAM 1100 in Cleveland. She’s produced hundreds of stories across the country for PNS over the years, served as an assignment editor and helped launch the PNS Daily Newscast in 2012. Mary currently covers beats in Ohio and other Midwestern states, and co-anchors 2021Talks, a PNS newscast tracking politics and elections.

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