Ohio Wins With Investment Law For Infrastructure, Communications, and Clean Energy Jobs
The state of Ohio stands to reap huge benefits from the recently passed $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law. The plan includes significant investments for the Buckeye state and the surrounding Ohio Valley that go far beyond just roads and bridges. The plan provides money for improvements in public transportation, drinking water, housing, broadband access, child care, veterans’ health, and caregiving. It will also increase the number of clean energy jobs available in the state.
Ohio’s infrastructure recently received a C- grade from the White House, which cited specific needs to improve resiliency and fix damages from weather events. Drinking water was also highlighted as an important need, with $13.4 billion set aside for water concerns. All in all, tens of billions of dollars could head to the region for economic and environmental improvement.
Ohio has long been a center for coal, steel, and iron production and its workforce reflects these important industries. But as more localities take steps to further invest in cleaner, domestically-sourced forms of energy, many recognize there’s a strong need to ensure good-paying jobs are available in the state. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act addresses this concern, and includes $16 billion to clean up closed coal mines and gas and oil wells. These projects would create thousands of new jobs in local communities and support moves to a more diversified energy portfolio. Additionally, the plan allocates $40 billion to retrain such workers for sustainable jobs. This overhaul ties into the modernization of the nation’s electric grid, and will pump economic stimulus through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER grant program.
Similar to the expansion of electricity in the 1930s, the federal plan includes funds for the national rollout of high-speed broadband access, designed to reach rural areas where high-speed internet has not previously been available. Under this plan, Ohioans would greatly benefit, particularly the one million residents who currently have no broadband access at home.
Several infrastructure plans already in process in Ohio stand to be bolstered by the new federal funding, such as the upcoming Interstate 70 reconstruction project near the town of Zanesville. Work on I-70 between U.S. 40 and SR 93 has already begun and organizers have prioritized using locally sourced materials and workers.
“Materials [are] almost always sourced locally,” said Zanesville Mayor Don Mason. “That’s going to be going toward local aggregate, equipment, cement workers, aggregate workers — it’s going to really help the economy.”
Federal funding could also aid work on Cleveland’s Interstate 480, I-76 and 77 around Akron, and on Interstate 71 around the state capital of Columbus. The Ohio Department of Transportation has plans for more than 950 projects across the state, improving more than 4,600 miles of road and 800 bridges.
Six months since its passing, the provisions of the infrastructure law are being rolled out by the Administration in partnership with the states. Ohio state agencies are now collecting proposals for projects and shovels are beginning to break ground. The bipartisan measure looks set to have a hugely beneficial impact on the infrastructure of the United States, and will help the nation meet the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
This is an update to this story originally published in August 2021.