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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown calls for six-year transportation bill



Published: Tue, July 8, 2014 @ 12:05 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

BOARDMAN

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown wants Congress to act quickly on a long-term transportation bill to provide money to fix the nation’s highways and bridges, but the legislative body is focused on only a six-month extension.

At a press conference Monday near the construction site of U.S. Route 224 and Interstate 680 in Boardman, a $5.8 million project that received 80 percent of its funding from the federal government, Brown discussed his concerns about the need for a six-year bill.

“A long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure is vital to strengthening our nation’s economic competitiveness and ensuring that thousands of hardworking Ohioans continue to rebuild our bridges and roads,” said Brown, a Democrat from Cleveland.

The transportation bill Congress is considering would provide $8 billion for highway and bridge projects for a six-month period, beginning Oct. 1. Without the extension, critical roads and bridges — including those in the Mahoning Valley — would be delayed, Brown said.

“It’s about keeping construction workers on the job and keeping our roads safe for motorists,” he said.

Tea-party conservatives are delaying the process, Brown added.

“A majority of tea-party members don’t think there’s a federal role in transportation projects,” he said.

There are “some major projects” in the Mahoning Valley that need federal funding, said John Getchey, executive director of Eastgate Regional Council of Governments.

At the top of that list is a $120 million improvement project to Interstate 80 between I-680 and Belmont Avenue. The project, which is to receive $37 million in federal funding, would add one lane in each direction and improve four bridges, he said. The project is to start April 2015 and take a couple of years to finish.

“Without federal funds, the project won’t move ahead,” Getchey said.

Congress approved a two-year transportation bill in 2012 to spend about $100 billion. In 2005, Congress approved a four-year, $244 billion bill. In between those bills, Congress approved nine temporary short-term fixes, including one for just three months.

Stability from a long-term transportation bill is needed to improve roads and bridges, which have been neglected since the 1980s, Brown said.

The Mahoning Valley has 122 bridges considered by the Federal Highway Administration to be “structurally deficient” — 33 in Mahoning County, 68 in Trumbull County and 21 in Columbiana County.


Comments

1repeaters(206 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

As reported in two previous articles in the Vindy, ' The federal highway fund has been underfunded every year for the last ten years.' The Senator should know that himself, but this is an election year. Question is, why was it underfunded and when will the new federal gas tax increase be passed; after the mid-term election.

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2republicanRick(1167 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If Sherrod Brown is so interested in union jobs and energy, why doesn't he push the Keystone Pipeline project?

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3questionreality(292 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

How about more money for sidewalks, Senator???

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4steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Hey Sherrod, how about cutting the funding for global warming from $22 billion to $14 billion and use the $8 billion to fund infrastructure improvements. We don't need more gasoline taxes.

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5steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Since 50% of people pay no income taxes at all, how about all of them just chip in $50 to cover infrastructure improvements. After all, everybody uses the roads and bridges. Is it too much to ask everyone to chip in just $50?

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6steivo(540 comments)posted 3 months, 2 weeks ago

While I hate the inconvenience of toll roads, maybe the idea is to increase the number of toll roads and toll bridges in order to get the freeloaders to pay at least something for the roads they are using.

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