Ohio Wins With Investment Plan Into Infrastructure, Communication, and Clean Energy Jobs.
The state of Ohio could reap huge benefits from the administration’s proposed $2 trillion American infrastructure investment plan. The plan, proposed in April, earmarks a significant investment in the Buckeye state and the surrounding Ohio Valley that goes far beyond roads and bridges. The plan would provide money for improvements in public transportation, drinking water, housing, broadband access, child care, veteran’s health, and caregiving. The plan also focuses on increasing the number of clean energy jobs available in the state.
Ohio’s current infrastructure received a C- grade from the White House citing specific needs to improve the resiliency of the infrastructure including damages from recent weather events. Drinking water was also cited 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 Administration’s plan addresses this concern, including $16 billion to clean up closed coal mines and gas and oil wells. These projects would create thousands of new jobs in communities that could benefit from a diversified energy portfolio. Additionally, the plan allots $40 billion to retrain such works 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 the national expansion 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, including the 1 million residents who currently have no broadband access at home.
Several infrastructure plans already in process in Ohio would be bolstered by the additional federal funding, such as the upcoming Interstate 70 reconstruction project near the town of Zanesville. Reconstruction 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.
The plan is not a done deal as federal legislators recently reached a bipartisan consensus on the package. The infrastructure package must first pass Congress before being signed into law. Though it relies on funding through increases in corporate taxes, infrastructure plans often receive strong bipartisan support. If passed, it will be an important cog in the wheel to reach the United States’ goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.