A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure

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ASCE

On January 24, 2017, U.S. Senate Democrats released a comprehensive proposal titled A Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure.  Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) helped draft the proposal which would make a historic $1 trillion federal investment to modernize our crumbling infrastructure and create more than 15 million jobs that our economy desperately needs.”

Although national in scope, the Blueprint to Rebuild proposal has great significance for Ohio as well.  Our state has one of the nation’s largest interstate systems and a major public transit network that would benefit from nationwide investment in infrastructure.

  • Ohio has the nation’s fourth largest interstate system with 6,700 lane miles.
  • Ohio’s public transportation agencies serve more than 300,000 passengers every weekday.
  • Nearly a quarter of Ohio’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
  • 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.

In a 1/24 news release, Senator Brown shared specifics from the national Blueprint to Rebuild and highlighted several priorities for Ohio that could be addressed through the new proposal. He addressed the subject further in the 2/1 edition of the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune.  Here are the main points:

Buy America

The plan would apply Buy America rules to all taxpayer-funded public works and infrastructure projects to ensure that American tax dollars support American materials and jobs. For example, several companies such as ArcelorMittal, AK Steel and Nucor make steel in Ohio that can build and re-build bridges throughout the state.

Fixing Ohio Roads and Bridges

The plan calls for $210 billion for road and bridge repairs and $200 billion for a Vital Infrastructure Program (VIP), which would direct money toward projects of critical national significance. While high-profile projects such as the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati come immediately to mind, there are also thousands of road miles and hundreds of bridges throughout rural Ohio that need to be rebuilt or repaved.

Updating Outdated Sewer Systems

The plan calls for $110 billion to modernize outdated water and sewer systems. Dozens of Ohio communities struggle to repair outdated sewer systems that contaminate our rivers, lakes and drinking water. A recent report to Congress noted that Ohio needs at least a $14 billion investment in its clean water systems over the next 20 years.

Improving Public Transportation

The plan calls for $130 billion to replace and expand rail and bus systems. Sixty percent of Ohio’s buses will need to be replaced over the next 10 years at a cost of $750 million. And Cleveland’s rail system alone would require $400 million to replace its fleet of rail cars and repair its tracks.

Eliminating Blight & Lead Hazards

The plan includes $100 billion to address affordable housing challenges, eliminate blighted properties that bring down local property values, and remediate lead hazards that put children at risk of lead poisoning.

Rebuilding America’s Schools

The plan includes $75 billion to help modernize America’s schools without burdening local taxpayers.

The infrastructure challenges facing the nation and our own state of Ohio are immense but not insurmountable. The Blueprint to Rebuild America’s Infrastructure will do much to start a national conversation. Ultimately, progress will result from a true bipartisan effort in Congress, collaboration between Congress and the President, and a disciplined approach to infrastructure investment.

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