Ohio Department of Transportation

GOPC Staff Speaks at MORPC Summit on Sustainability and the Environment

By Jon Honeck, Ph.D., GOPC Senior Policy Fellow Overview

On Friday, October 21, I had the privilege of being a panelist at the MORPC Summit on Sustainability and the Environment, held at the Columbus Hilton Downtown.  The panel’s title was “Looking Ahead, What Are the Important Sustainability Policy Issues?”  The other panelists included Kent Scarrett of the Ohio Municipal League, Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council, and Holly Nagle of the Columbus Chamber.  Panelists were asked to speak about upcoming issues in the lame duck state legislative session and the 2017 state budget process.  In the short run, panelists agreed that Ohio’s renewable portfolio energy standards are likely to be a top priority of the General Assembly when it returns after the 2016 election.  For the 2017 budget process, I focused my presentation on transportation, water and sewer infrastructure, brownfield remediation, and application of public nuisance statutes to commercial and industrial property. 

Transportation

GOPC is trying to improve state funding for public transit and advocate that the state make progress in an “active transportation” strategy that makes roadways safe for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians.   The Ohio Department of Transportation budget is considered separately from the state main operating budget bill.  The budget scenario for public transit funding is difficult.   Currently the state only provides about 3 percent of overall public transit funding, with local and federal funds providing the largest shares.  On a per capita basis, Ohio ranks 38th highest in the nation in its support for public transit.  GOPC has proposed some ways to provide dedicated funding from the state, but progress is complicated by the need to replace Ohio’s Medicaid managed care sales tax.  Seven local transit authorities rely on a local sales tax and collectively they received $33.6 million from the sales tax on Medicaid premiums. If this funding goes away without a replacement, significant service cuts will result.

Water and Sewer

Many cities across the state are facing a dual challenge of upgrading aging infrastructure and complying with EPA regulations to fix combined sewer overflows that lead to raw sewage being discharged into waterways during major storms.   Over the next 20 years, the EPA estimates that Ohio utilities will need $14.1 billion for wastewater treatment upgrades and $12.1 billion for drinking water infrastructure.  GOPC’s analysis of the problems facing Ohio legacy cities and the need for additional funding can be found here.  These estimates do not include any potential costs of lead service line replacement that may be needed in the wake of public reaction to the situation in Flint, MI.  Under Ohio House Bill 512, Ohio utilities must complete a map of all lead service water supply lines by March, 2017, a date that is in the midst of the state budget process.  The availability of this information may influence public opinion.   

With the Kasich Administration proposing its final budget, sustainability issues will have to hold their own against education, taxation, criminal justice, and other high profile issues.  GOPC will ensure that advocates are informed and can make the case for sustainability during the budget process.  For more information, please sign up for our email updates. 

 

GOPC Announces Finalists for the 2015 Greater Ohio Sustainable Development Awards

GOPC is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2015 Greater Ohio Sustainable Development Awards. Don’t forget to join us for the Awards Ceremony, where winners will be announced, on Wednesday, June 10th from 8am-9am, which will presented as part of GOPC’s Summit: Restoring Neighborhoods, Strengthening Economies: Innovation & Sustainable Growth in Ohio’s Cities & Regions. Click here to register now!

The awards recognize those who are working to create vibrant and sustainable communities, cities, and regions in Ohio. We received nominations from around the state for many worthy contenders; working with an independent advisory committee, three finalists were advanced for each of the four awards.

Public Sector Leader Award

This Award recognizes a public sector individual or entity exemplifying outstanding leadership and innovation in advancing policies or programs that incentivize and enable community reinvestment and sustainable development in Ohio’s cities and regions.

Public Sector Leader Finalists:

  • Senator Bill Beagle is in his second term in the Ohio Senate, representing all or part of Darke, Miami, Montgomery and Preble Counties. He is Chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on Workforce. He previously served as a member of Tipp City Council, where he was Council President. In addition to his legislative duties, Beagle operates his own small business. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Miami University and earned an MBA from Cleveland State University.
  • The Ohio Department of Transportation’s Statewide Transit Needs Study examined existing transit services and quantified transit changes that might be needed. Looking at travel trends and demographics, ODOT found a rising need for both urban and rural transit and developed short- and long-term strategies to bring the most efficient and cost-effective improvements to transit riders and taxpayers. In addition to the study report itself, ODOT published focused study reports and initiative papers to inform citizens and decision-makers about Ohio's transit needs and proposed solutions.
  • Mayor Georgine Welo was first elected as mayor of South Euclid in 2003. She has spearheaded innovative community revitalization projects to transform neighborhoods hard-hit by foreclosure and vacancy. Under Mayor Welo’s leadership, South Euclid’s Green Neighborhoods Initiative used competitive grant funds and involved design students to remodeling postwar bungalows using green building techniques and universal design features. Vacant lots were transformed with the building of two “idea homes” and the creation of eight community gardens and three pocket parks, all designed to show the potential of South Euclid’s affordable bungalow housing stock and walkable community and to build neighborhood camaraderie. Since the launch of the initiative, South Euclid has attracted over $33 million in private residential investment and has been named a Top 10 Northeast Ohio Community by Keller Williams Realty.

Private Sector Champion Award

This Award recognizes a private sector individual or entity that has demonstrated a commitment to and excellence in investing in existing communities and strengthening local economies in Ohio. Their contributions foster a holistic approach to sustainable development, leading to environmental, social, and economic prosperity.

Private Sector Champion Finalists:

  • The Model Group is an integrated property development, construction, and management company with a passion for revitalizing urban neighborhoods. Founded in 1978, the company has grown into the preeminent affordable housing developer in Cincinnati. With the philosophy that affordable housing must be developed and constructed in a way that is indistinguishable from market rate housing, The Model Group partners with a variety of funding sources, local municipalities, and community stakeholders to build and redevelop housing and mixed-use developments that transform neighborhoods.
  • PNC Bank is a leading investor and partner in community development throughout Ohio and the country. Working closely with local and state partners, PNC has made significantly contributed resources, capacity, and leadership to urban revitalization efforts in Ohio’s large and small communities.
  • Wagenbrenner Development specializes in acquiring blighted and underutilized properties and redeveloping them to become community assets. The company’s expertise in brownfield redevelopment, from treating contaminated soil to structuring complex financing tools, has enabled it to take on major urban infill projects in Columbus. In addition to these residential and mixed-use projects, Wagenbrenner has been active in neighborhoods such as Columbus’ Weinland Park, where the company is engaging neighborhood stakeholders while building forty-one planned new single-family houses and renovating a line of row houses into 90 apartments.

Non-profit of the Year Award

This Award recognizes a nonprofit individual or entity in Ohio that works with communities to identify local needs and addresses them with efficiency and effectiveness. Open to 501-c3 designated non-profits and philanthropic institutions, this Award honors those organizations that are innovating community solutions and meeting local needs and opportunities with distinction.

Non-profit of the Year Finalists:

  • The Downtown Dayton Partnership works with downtown property owners, businesses, and residents, providing strategic planning, business development, advocacy, public space management, and marketing services to grow and strengthen Dayton’s downtown. A key partner in the community-driven Greater Downtown Dayton Plan, the partnership has helped guide successful implementation of the original plan launched in 2010 as well as the 2015 update. In addition to spurring public and private investment in downtown, the plan is bringing active living downtown, with a bike share program launched in May and the bidding process underway for the $4 million RiverScape River Run project, designed to transform the Great Miami River in downtown Dayton into a recreational destination.
  • Cleveland’s University Circle, Inc. development, service, and advocacy organization is responsible for the growth of University Circle as a premier urban district and center of innovation in health care, education, and arts and culture. University Circle, Inc. is creating a vital urban center by activating former land bank sites on key commercial corridors with dense, mixed-use development. The organization achieves that objective through land leases that shape development plans and a longstanding architectural review board that assures quality urban design. The new, infill developments join the neighborhood’s anchor educational, medical, and cultural institutions to attract residents, workers, students, and visitors. The Uptown neighborhood and its new apartments are a prime example of this.
  • The Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation was launched in 2009 in partnership with the City of Youngstown and The Raymond John Wean Foundation to catalyze strategic neighborhood reinvestment in neighborhoods throughout the city in order to transform vulnerable, undervalued, and transitional neighborhoods into healthy neighborhoods of choice. YNDC uses a dual approach of strategic investments to rebuild market confidence in neighborhoods with strong assets and broader partnership strategies to strengthen Youngstown’s community development capacity and the citywide infrastructure supporting neighborhood revitalization. Over the past six years, YNDC has grown to provide neighborhood planning services, homeownership education and counseling, and lending services. YNDC carries out home repair and rehabilitation, has established a farmer’s market, and is an AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps State project site involving a total of 19 AmeriCorps members in strengthening program areas and cleaning up vacant properties.

The Catalytic Partnership Award

Communities are strengthened when sectors work together to meet common goals for sustainable development. This Award recognizes a cross-sector partnership that has had a measurable positive impact in a community or region in Ohio, and represents a model for creative and effective collaboration.

Catalytic Partnership Finalists:

  • Hamilton Mill and Regional Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of Southwest Ohio is a unique partnership in which the Hamilton Mill business incubator collaborates with the City of Hamilton so that start-ups can use the “City as a Lab” to test their concepts. Start-ups have immediate access to customers and expertise. The Mill introduces client start-ups to regional local partners that will assist and promote their success in the Southwest Ohio economy. In addition to garnering multiple awards for the incubator, this new approach has led to the creation of new companies and jobs in Southwest Ohio.
  • The Healthy Neighborhoods, Healthy Families initiative (HNHF) in Columbus’s Near South Side neighborhood is spearheaded by Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) and Community Development for All People (CD4AP). HNHF addresses affordable housing, health and wellness, education, neighborhood safety and accessibility, and workforce development on the South Side of Columbus. Partnering with the United Way and the City of Columbus, the initiative has resulted in repairs and renovations to over 100 homes, a community garden and farmer’s market, elementary school mentoring and enrichment programs, neighborhood infrastructure improvements, and investments in minority- and woman-owned businesses.
  • Kent State University and the City of Kent have joined together to revitalize downtown Kent by bringing together city, university, and business assets to catalyze economic revival. Together with the Portage Area Regional Transit Authority and private developers, the revitalization plan led to the establishment of a multi-modal transportation center, which spurred additional development. Redevelopment, including demolition of blighted buildings, repurposing of historic properties, and new construction, has connected the university campus to a revitalized downtown. To date, a total of $130 million has been invested, with additional projects still in progress.

Click here for more information about the Greater Ohio Sustainable Development Awards nomination process.

 

GOPC Testifies on ODOT Budget

GOPC calls for policies that would lead to a modern and diverse transportation system in Ohio By Alison Goebel, Associate Director

Every two years, Ohio’s Governor submits a proposed Operating Budget to the General Assembly. This biennium budget for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 is proposed at $72.3 billion. Of that overall budget, $5.9 billion have been allocated to the Ohio Department of Transportation to support its capital projects and operations.

The Ohio Department of Transportation oversees and funds all modes of transportation in Ohio, including railroads, maritime ports, airports, state routes and highways, and public transportation.

Approximately 92% of ODOT's biennium budget is to be used for the maintenance and construction of highways and bridges, which mostly translates into capital dollars for highway repair and expansion. Undoubtedly, Ohio’s highways are a critical asset to the state; with key national highways running through Ohio, the state must maintain the highways in good repair.

However, other modes are critical to the long-term economic health of the state, as well. In particular, public transit has always played, and will increasingly play, an essential role in job growth in the state. Public transit connects workers to jobs—low wage workers utilize public transit, as do “choice riders” who prefer the convenience of public transit to driving. National studies have confirmed again and again that young professionals are showing a strong preference for a range of transportation options.

To attract and retain young professionals in Ohio—the next generation of economic generators—the state of Ohio must assist local transit agencies in meeting the demands of this workforce.  Currently 2% of the ODOT budget goes to supporting Ohio’s 61 public transit agencies.

This past week, GOPC provided testimony to the House Finance Subcommittee on Transportation urging the Legislature to increase funding for public transit and to put into place policies that would help “level the playing field” for transit, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and other options that would modernize the state’s transportation system and help prepare the state to attract and retain residents who expect a range of transportation choices.

GOPC will be providing similar testimony to the full House Finance Committee and the Senate Finance Committee in the coming weeks as the Legislature works to finalize the ODOT budget.

Let's Talk Transit

Health Line in Cleveland ODOT Hosts Five Regional Stakeholder Meetings on the Future of Transit in Ohio

Join the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) at one of five regional stakeholder meetings to help shape a long-term strategy for meeting the needs of Ohio's transit riders today and in the future.

Trends show there is a definite rise in the need for convenient, affordable public transportation to jobs, medical appointments, shopping and recreational activities. Ohio's transit agencies are struggling to fund existing service, let alone meet increasing demand. From light rail and bus service in large cities to rural van services, the Ohio Statewide Transit Needs Study is examining existing transit needs and drafting recommendations for better addressing them. ODOT needs your input, comments and ideas!

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2-4 PM Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority Board Room 1240 West 6th Street Cleveland, OH 44113

Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2-4 PM Hancock Family Center 1800 North Blanchard Street Findlay, OH 45840

Thursday, Oct. 23, 2-4 PM Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Scioto Room 111 Liberty Street Columbus, OH 43215

Thursday, Oct. 30, 2-4 PM Athens Community Center 701 East State Street Athens, OH 45701

Friday, Oct. 31, 10 AM-12 PM OhioMeansJobs Building 300 East Silver Street Lebanon, OH 45036

Unable to attend? All meeting materials will be available online starting Oct. 21 at www.TransitNeedsStudy.ohio.gov. Comments accepted through Nov. 14.

Questions or comments? Email ODOT at Transit.Needs@dot.state.oh.us.