OCIA Blog – News for the Ohio Transportation Industry

Ohio’s Transportation System is an Economic Workhorse

Posted on Jan 14, 2015
in Infrastructure, Research & Data | 0 comments

ODOT - Ohio Statewide Freight Study 2013

ODOT – Ohio Statewide Freight Study 2013

Talk about geographic advantage!  The Buckeye state sits within a single day’s drive from 60% of the U.S. and Canadian population, making it a freight and logistics hub for the entire country. Companies in just about every industry depend on Ohio’s transportation system for reliable and timely shipment of everything from bulk commodities and machinery to thousands of items that line your grocery store shelves. The economic impact of all this activity is enormous.

Commercial trucking carries a major portion of the load with shipments accounting for 68% of the freight flow in Ohio. That translates to more than $438 billion in goods shipped, giving Ohio the 3rd largest freight payload in the nation. And looking ahead, the freight volume moved by truck is expected to increase 67% by 2040!

The other major freight transportation modes make a huge economic impact as well. With 36 railroads in service and 5,300 miles of track, Ohio ranks 4th nationally in total active rail miles and 6th in the number of operating railroads. The rail system accounts for 28% of the freight moving through the state. Ohio also ranks 4th in the nation in the value of shipments moved by water. The Buckeye state’s 26 ports have a $6.5 billion impact on the U.S. economy. Overall, the combined freight volume for transportation modes is projected to increase by 639 million tons annually by 2040!

There’s no question about it. Ohio’s network of highways, bridges, railroads and waterways comprise a powerful economic workhorse that benefits industries and communities throughout the nation. As more demand is placed on our transportation system in the coming years, we need to make sure that it can handle the load – safely and efficiently.

Check out our “Driving the Economy!” brochure to learn more about the impact of transportation in Ohio.

Transportation Construction – Major Ohio Employer

Posted on Dec 23, 2014
in Construction, Infrastructure, Research & Data | 0 comments

13064 OCIA Infrastructure brochure (IMPACT) CoverTransportation is a major driver of the nation’s economy, employing millions of workers, moving people and goods 24/7, generating revenue and utilizing the resources and services provided by other industries. Transportation impacts the life of every American on a daily basis. There is no better place to witness the impact of transportation at work than right here in Ohio.

Let’s take a look at employment. In Ohio, the design, construction and maintenance of transportation infrastructure supports the equivalent of 109,349 jobs, ranking the state 7th in the nation for transportation construction employment. Approximately 54,500 of these jobs are directly involved in transportation construction. They are full-time positions paying an average salary of $49,459.  The remainder includes approximately 54,800 jobs sustained by transportation design and construction industry spending throughout the state. Collectively these employees earn an annual payroll of $4.2 billion and contribute $365 million in state and federal payroll tax revenue.

Additionally, more than 2 million full-time jobs in key Ohio industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, retail sales and tourism are dependent on the work done by the transportation construction industry. None of these industries – as well as many others – could function efficiently without a reliable highway network connecting communities within Ohio and throughout the nation.

Transportation construction is indeed a major employer in Ohio. And the roads and bridges built by the construction industry are relied upon by all. Keeping them in the best shape possible is just common sense.

Check out our “Driving the Economy!” brochure to learn more about the impact of transportation in Ohio.

‘Drivers, Start Your Engines’ – Thanksgiving Weekend is Going to Have Roadways Busy

Posted on Nov 26, 2014
in Construction, In the Media, Infrastructure Insight, Planning, Public Messages | 0 comments

infrastructure-insight-header

The countdown has begun. No, not for Christmas.

The countdown has begun for the busiest day of the year. No, not Black Friday.

The busiest day on our nation’s roads is here! The day before Thanksgiving – Wednesday – TODAY – is traditionally the busiest travel day in our nation. And with some of the lowest gasoline prices in several years, Americans are more likely to be hitting the roads even more.

“Encouraged by low gas prices and a steady economy, travelers will experience more traffic on our roads than in recent years when more people stayed closer to home for the holiday,” said INRIX Analyst Jim Bak. “… Drivers will battle more traffic heading out of town this year, particularly on routes near major airports.”

Thanksgiving Highway TravelIf you’re one of 46 million Americans – that’s roughly one out of every seven people in our nation – heading over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house this weekend, you’re enjoying both the lowest gasoline prices in five years and the busiest highways in seven years. Regarding the gas prices, according to AAA, the average price at the pump for regular gas in Ohio is $2.84 a gallon – a 40 cent decrease over a year ago. Nationally, the average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $2.81 – nearly 50 cents cheaper than 2013. Lower motor-fuel prices have AAA estimating that nearly nine out of 10 Americans traveling this Thanksgiving Weekend will be doing so on our road system.

Fortunately for Ohio drivers, it is home to none of the busiest cities for Thanksgiving traffic. According to INRIX, a data technology company, the honor of busiest traffic cities goes to: 1. Los Angeles, 2. Portland, Ore., 3. San Francisco and 4. Seattle. The remainder of INRIX’s top 10 worst traffic cities for Thanksgiving are all east of the Mississippi River: New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Miami.

INRIX reports that Americans headed out of town the day before Thanksgiving can expect their trips to take 25 percent longer to get to where they’re headed than on typical Wednesday drives. It’s better than Los Angeles and Portland, where travelers in those West Coast states’ metro areas can expect drives to take up to 36 percent longer than normal.

Bak said traffic data shows that the best time to head to your Thanksgiving destination on Wednesday is before 2 p.m. or after 6 p.m. He suggests, if possible, to avoid it all together and head out early Thanksgiving Day. “If it’s possible to wait to leave until Thanksgiving morning, roads will be free and clear as long as you’re not heading to the Macy’s Parade or a major shopping center to get a leg up on Black Friday.”

If you didn’t beat the rush and are sitting in traffic, you can join the debate of whether Thanksgiving Weekend is the source for the worst travel of the year. According to USA Today, it’s not. “There are about five or 10 days during summer that are busier than Thanksgiving,” said AAA’s Troy Green. “… But this holiday definitely earns a spot in the top 10.”

Chew on This

While you’re sitting in traffic, here’s something to chew on before that Thanksgiving feast. According to AAA, the worst days for traveling are (in no particular order):

    • Fridays in summer
    • Christmas
    • July 4th
    • Memorial Day
    • Spring Break
    • New Year’s Eve
    • Labor Day
    • Easter
    • Mardi Gras
    • The day before Thanksgiving (but you probably realized that by now)

DON’T MISS “60 MINUTES,” SUNDAY, NOV. 23 – AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE IS “ON LIFE SUPPORT”

Posted on Nov 21, 2014
in Construction, In the Media, Infrastructure | 1 comment

Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood tells 60 MINUTES that many of the roads and bridges we drive on every day are “on life support.” What’s more, nearly 70,000 bridges in the U.S. are deemed structurally deficient. “I don’t want to say they’re unsafe. But they’re dangerous,” said LaHood. “Our infrastructure’s on life support right now. That’s what we’re on,” LaHood is now co-chair of Building America Future, a bipartisan coalition of current and former elected officials seeking to increase spending on infrastructure.

LaHood speaks to Steve Kroft for a 60 MINUTES report on the state of America’s crumbling infrastructure. It will be broadcast Sunday, Nov. 23 (7:30-8:30 PM, ET/7:00-8:00 PM, PT) on the CBS Television Network. Watch an excerpt.

 

Long Term Funding for Roads and Bridges – Public Consensus needed!

Posted on Aug 20, 2014
in Infrastructure, Public Messages, Research & Data | 0 comments

road_work_ahead-300x225The U.S. Congress has taken a lot of heat about its ability to sidestep important decisions. The new Highway Bill is a prime example. Passed in the Senate just days before the Highway Trust Fund ran out of cash, the new bill has been characterized as a temporary fix, another Band-Aid or “kicking the can down the road” once again. And rightly so!  Rather than seeking a funding solution that would sustain our country’s roads and bridges for the long term, Congress came up with a $10.8 billion package that keeps the cash flowing until May 2015. Then it’s back to the drawing board – again.

But amidst criticism that Congress once again missed its chance to address the larger issue, a recent Associated Press-GfK poll offers a different perspective. The poll results suggest that Congress’s inability to find a politically acceptable long-term source of highway funds may reflect indecision and disagreement among the American public. Consider these statistics from the study:

  • Nearly 60% of Americans think the economic benefits of good highways, railroads and airports outweigh the cost to taxpayers.
  • 73% say the quality of roads and bridges where they live is “getting worse” or “staying about the same.”
  • 58% believe that traffic congestion in the area where they live has gotten worse compared to 5 years ago.

So a majority of Americans believe that having a strong transportation system is worth the cost.  However, when it comes to paying for highway construction and improvements to roads and bridges, public opinion is scattered. Public support is weak for the funding options discussed most often:

  • Only 14% support raising the federal gasoline tax from current levels of 18.4 cents per gallon of gas and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel fuel. More than half (58%) oppose an increase.
  • 17% support having private companies pay for the construction of new roads and bridges in exchange for the right to charge tolls. 46% oppose.
  • 30% support turning the responsibility for paying for such projects over to state and local governments.
  • 20% support replacing federal motor fuel taxes with taxes based on how many miles a vehicle is driven while 40% oppose this approach.

The mixed viewpoints of the American public are difficult to reconcile. But one thing is certain. It is impossible to develop an excellent transportation infrastructure without agreement on a viable funding program for construction and upkeep. Perhaps the insights from the AP-GfK poll are correct. The lack of public consensus about acceptable funding options is part of the reason why Congress remains stymied about a long term transportation program. Maybe it’s time to recognize that, along with our congressional representatives, we all have some ownership of the highway funding dilemma and a stake in finding the best solution..

Check out the Associated Press article and download the poll results here.

Secretary Foxx and former DOT Secretaries send Open Letter to Congress

Posted on Jul 22, 2014
in In the Media, Infrastructure, Public Messages | 0 comments

120px-DOTLogoTransportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and 11 of his predecessors sent an important message to Congress this week.  In an Open Letter, they acknowledge that Congress will likely act to avoid insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund.  And that the current bill – passed last week in the House and now pending in the Senate – should extend surface transportation funding until May 2015. But the heart of their message is much stronger.

The Transportation Secretaries point out that Congress’s work does not end with the bill currently under consideration. They emphasize that, “This bill will not ‘fix’ America’s transportation system. For that, we need a much larger and longer-term investment.” These folks should know. Taken together, they have served seven presidents and led the U.S. Department of Transportation for over 35 years. Based on that long history and substantial experience, their letter declares that, “Never in our nation’s history has America’s transportation system been on a more unsustainable course.”  Members of Congress and every American citizen should take heed.

You can read the full text of the DOT Secretaries’ letter at http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/open-letter-secretary-foxx-and-11-former-dot-secretaries-urging-congress-address-long

New ARTBA campaign highlights transportation investment needs

Posted on Jul 9, 2014
in In the Media, Infrastructure, Public Messages | 0 comments

artbalogo1The ARTBA “Transportation Makes America Work!” program (TMAW) recently launched a fact-filled information campaign that shines a bright spotlight on America’s highway and transit investment needs. Under the headline “The Shocking Truth”, the new campaign highlights the impact that transportation investment – or the lack of it – has on American families and businesses.tmawnew

The information-rich campaign tells the transportation story from eight different perspectives: Health & Safety, Emergency Response, The Economy, Commerce, What We Pay, and What’s Happening to Our Roads & Bridges, How Much Improvements Cost, and the Cost of Inaction. Plenty of details and helpful graphics clearly illustrate that our economy, quality of life and security truly depend on the strength of our transportation infrastructure.

Take a few minutes and check out the “The Shocking Truth” campaign today. It is definitely time well spent.

 Shocking Truth

Sen. Brown, Transportation Leaders use School Bus to Teach Highway Funding Lesson

Posted on Jul 3, 2014
in In the Media, Infrastructure, Public Messages | 0 comments

IMG_9066

LIUNA’s eye-catching prop of failed infrastructure visited Columbus, OH on June 30th.

In front of a backdrop with traffic-halting shock, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and other transportation leaders from Ohio informed media on June 30 that heavy-highway planning on the state’s future transportation projects could be stopped within weeks.

In an awareness effort held at the Ohio Contractors Association’s (OCA) headquarters in Columbus,  the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) supplied a heart-stopping image of a school bus dead in its tracks after being hit by a piece of a failed bridge.

As part of LiUNA’s “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” tour, local media and the public learned how the nation’s dwindling federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF), which provides state departments of transportation nearly half of their funding for transportation project improvements, will be all but bankrupt by September 30th. The end of September also coincides with the expiration of the current federal transportation funding bill, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).

Brown, a two-term U.S. Senator talked about the importance of investing in infrastructure. According to the senator, leading up to the 1980s the United States invested in its infrastructure. “… Which was the right thing to do for safety reasons; it was the right thing for economic development; it was the right thing to do for wages; it was the right thing to do for planning infrastructure and making sure we had a prosperous country,” Sen. Brown said. “You don’t have prosperity unless you build good infrastructure.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod  Brown (D-Ohio)

U.S. Sen. Sherrod
Brown (D-Ohio)

Sen. Brown’s appearance brought attention to dwindling HTF funds, which will slow planning and development for future projects like the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati, a local interchange in nearby Dublin and others throughout Ohio. Joining the senator were OCA President Chris Runyan, Ohio Laborers’ Employees Cooperation and Education Trust Executive Director John C. Hughes Jr., Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Executive Director William Murdock; and Kokosing Construction Co. Inc. laborer Anna Wiley.

Regarding the need for a long-term federal transportation funding bill, Sen. Brown said the country doesn’t want or need a six-month or two-year bill “so central Ohio can’t plan, so DOT can’t plan, so communities and workers can’t plan. We want a six-year plan and we want it to be bi-partisan the way it used to be.”

Speakers stood before a crushed school bus that features a prop resembling a large piece of fallen bridge to symbolize the falling condition of the nation’s transportation infrastructure system. LiUNA, which has more than a half-million members, began its “Getting Schooled in Infrastructure” Tour in mid-June. Ohio was among the states in the six-week tour of the nation’s heartland before it concludes in Washington, D.C.  The 22-city tour is in an effort to press Congress to pass a long-term, full-investment highway bill this year. “It’s time to stop sugar-coating this issue,” said LiUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan when the “bus” tour began in Delaware. “We are not trying to scare people, but we are trying to wake people and Congress up.”

“The visual that is provided demonstrates that this is more than a job issue,” said OCA’s Runyan, as he glanced at the yellow school bus behind him. “It is a safety issue. It is a business issue. It is a personal issue for every person that drives a car, rides a bus, pedals a bicycle or walks a path or sidewalk.”

ASCE launches new campaign to fix the Highway Trust Fund

Posted on Jun 30, 2014
in In the Media, Public Messages | 0 comments

img_bannerlogoThere’s been plenty of news about the federal Highway Trust Fund heading for the fiscal cliff in late August.  That’s barely two months away!  The reality is that, without some fast Congressional action, the Highway Trust Fund balance will indeed reach zero.  As the HTF cash flow gets tighter, reimbursements to state transportation departments for existing highway projects will slow down {7ff55bd0-f299-4383-8367-8844231ba176}_HTF_logovery quickly.  And if the revenue issue remains unresolved this fall, there will be no federal funding for any new transportation projects in 2015.  Here in Ohio, approximately half of ODOT’s construction programs will come to a halt. State DOT projects throughout the country will experience a similar downturn. That’s unhealthy for our roads, bridges and transit systems, and potentially devastating to contractors who rely on highway construction for their livelihood.

Trade and professional associations have been working hard to keep the Highway Trust Fund crisis in the public eye. Earlier this month the American Society of Civil Engineers launched a new campaign urging definitive Congressional action to fund America’s transportation infrastructure for the long term. The campaign website at www.fixthetrustfund.org and Twitter page at #FixTheTrustFund make it easy for businesses and consumers to join together and tell Congress to find a long term sustainable revenue solution right now. The campaign provides lots of good information about the basic problem, the overall economic impact and the personal impact on American families and businesses. Check it out at www.fixthetrustfund.org to learn more.  Better yet, use the tools at the website to Take Action yourself!

Federal Gas Tax Increase Proposed in Senate

Posted on Jun 19, 2014
in In the Media, Infrastructure | 0 comments

slide-4The Columbus Dispatch reports that a bi-partisan plan to raise the federal gas tax has surfaced in the U.S. Senate.  With all the recent news coverage about the Highway Trust Fund running out of cash in late August, the timing is certainly right. Here are the key points of the plan proposed by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn.:

  • The federal gas tax, which currently stands at 18.4 cents-per-gallon, would be increased by 12 cents over the next two years.
  • The federal diesel tax, currently at 24.4 cents-per-gallon, would also be increased by 12 cents over the next two years.
  • The increases would occur in two annual increments of 6 cents each.
  • The fuel taxes would then be indexed to keep up with inflation.

The proposed increases are substantial and definitely should be. The federal gas tax and diesel taxes were last increased in 1993 and, as fixed-rate assessments, had no provision for inflation. As a result, each revenue dollar generates far less funding for highway building and repair today than 10 or 20 years ago. Inadequate funding coupled with an aging transportation infrastructure has created a transportation crisis in the United States. And without a Highway Trust Fund that is solvent for the long term, the condition of our roads and bridges will only get worse.  This bi-partisan plan is an important step in the right direction.

You can read the full article here. Columbus Dispatch_12-cent hike in fuel taxes proposed in Senate_061914