With 262,166 total road lane miles and more than 43,537 bridges, Ohio supports one of the largest and most active transportation systems in the United States. In fact, Ohio ranks 5th in total Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and freight volume is among the highest in the nation. Each year, $551 billion in goods are shipped to destinations in Ohio and another $587 billion in goods travel outbound from Ohio sites. Commercial trucking carries a majority of the load and, looking ahead, the freight volume moved by truck is expected to increase 67% by 2040.
The high volume of passenger vehicle and commercial freight traffic flowing through the state every day supports businesses, provides jobs and ultimately drives the economy. With this level of ongoing activity, Ohio deserves the safest and most up-to-date transportation system possible, one that meets today’s needs while preparing for the future.
But despite the high volume – and the promise of even greater capacity demands in the future – 90% of Ohio transportation funding is used for preservation rather than expansion. The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) and local communities across the state do an excellent job of maintaining the state’s existing roads and bridges. They work very hard at “making do” with available financial resources. But expanding the system is another matter. When it comes to planning and building a robust transportation network that will propel Ohio through the rest of the century, the assurance of adequate long-term funding simply isn’t there. In fact, based on revenue projections for 2016-2019, $5.6 billion in Major Projects remain unfunded.
With passage of the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act) in December 2015, Ohio transportation revenues will remain stable for the next few years. However, the FAST Act provides no plan for sustainable long term federal transportation funding. Without an increase in the federal Motor Fuel Tax or enactment of a new revenue source, the $14 billion annual shortfall inherent in the Highway Trust Fund will continue to grow. With this in mind, now is the right time for vigorous discussion about the future of Ohio’s transportation funding. And because revenue growth will be driven at the state level, it is also the right time to ask, “How will we pay our way?”
Check out Ohio Highway Funding – Paying Our Way to learn more about current conditions of Ohio’s transportation infrastructure and sensible strategies for meeting future needs.