GOPC’s Recommended Transportation Policies Signed Into Law

April 2nd, 2015

On Wednesday, April 1st, Governor Kasich signed the state transportation budget bill. This $7 billion budget bill includes two important provisions that GOPC strongly advocated for and that will help lay the foundation for a more diverse and modern transportation system in Ohio. GOPC’s successful policy provisions include:

  1. Performance metrics that allow for comparison of performance across transportation modes. The legislation directs ODOT to use these metrics to assist with statewide strategic planning processes and investment decisions (exact language can be found in Sec. 5501.08 of the transportation budget). With this new language, Ohio will be joining other states, such as Pennsylvania and North Carolina, in utilizing metrics to guide transportation investment. This provision should help public transportation compete for additional funding.
  2. Joint Legislative Task Force on Transportation Issues. Throughout the legislative process, GOPC championed the creation of a task force that would analyze transportation funding. This Task Force has a broader focus, but must report by December 31, 2016 on the funding needs and recommendations for funding transportation. There is significant bi-partisan support for this Task Force (the exact charges of the Task Force can be found in Sec. 775.40). This Task Force creates an opportunity to further explore funding options for multi-modal and public transit.

GOPC thanks the Legislature for considering these provisions and incorporating them into the final budget that went to the Governor.  Without support from key legislative champions, these provisions would not have been signed into law.

Click here to see the final transportation bill (follow the link for “Transportation and Public Safety Budget FY2016 and FY2017″).

The Water & Sewer Infrastructure Crisis and Potential Paths Forward

March 3rd, 2015

By Samantha Dawson, GOPC Intern, and Marianne Eppig, Manager of Research & Communications

Our nation and its legacy cities are facing an impending infrastructure crisis: water and sewer systems are failing and require modernization as soon as possible. Most of these water and sewer systems were built following WWII, meaning that they are approaching the end of their useful life. In some places, the infrastructure is already beginning to fail, leading to water main breaks, housing floods, sewage overflows into the environment, and public health crises.

While the national bill to upgrade this infrastructure has been estimated at around $1 trillion, costs for addressing Ohio’s existing water and sewer system deficiencies are estimated to be around $20.84 billion, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

To meet federal clean water mandates, cities must find ways to finance these needed infrastructure overhauls in short order. So far, many cities around Ohio have been ratcheting up water and sewer rates. The city of Akron, for example, has increased rates by 71% in one year. Other cities around Ohio have raised rates between 30% to 50% or more within the last two years.

Graph-WaterRates-OEPA    Graph-SewerRates-OEPA

GOPC is currently looking into other financial tools that can be used to restore Ohio’s water and sewer infrastructure systems. We will be discussing these tools with a panel of experts at our upcoming 2015 Summit on June 9th during the following session:

Finding Solutions to Ohio’s Water Infrastructure Challenges 

Ohio cities, large and small, must address the critical behind-the-scenes challenge of modernizing their water and sewer infrastructure to avoid potential serious public health crises and environmental degradation, and to create capacity to attract and support businesses and residents.  However, Ohio’s cities are struggling to find ways to finance the complicated infrastructure overhauls needed to address these challenges, comply with federal mandates, and even support on-going maintenance. On this panel, experts will discuss the scope of these infrastructure challenges along with innovative financing approaches and sustainable solutions necessary for Ohio’s cities to function smoothly and accommodate regrowth.

We hope you will join us at the 2015 Summit! For more information about the Summit agenda and to register, click here.

Two GOPC Policy Recommendations Incorporated in Statewide Transportation Budget Bill

February 27th, 2015
The Ohio Statehouse

The Ohio Statehouse

Throughout February, Greater Ohio Policy Center has been testifying to the Ohio House of Representatives on the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) biennium budget, calling for policies that would lead to a modern and diverse transportation system in Ohio.

The Ohio House Finance Committee has incorporated two of GOPC’s policy recommendations into the transportation budget bill that passed out of the House Finance committee in late February. As a direct result of GOPC’s testimony and educational efforts, the bill now includes:

Sec. 5501.08. The department of transportation, in order to assist in statewide strategic transportation planning, shall develop metrics that allow the comparison of data across transportation modes and that also incorporate the full spectrum of state strategic transportation goals, including all of the following:

(A)   Anticipated future costs of maintaining infrastructure in acceptable condition, both short-term and long-term;

(B)   Short-term economic impact, one to five years, and long-term economic impact, thirty years and longer;

(C)   Economic impact on a region’s future rate of job growth and job retention;

(D)   Motorist, bicyclist, and pedestrian counts, and number of accidents by mode.

Section 755.40. There is hereby created the Joint Legislative Task Force on Department of Transportation Funding. […] The Task Force shall examine the funding needs of the Ohio Department of Transportation. The Task Force also shall study specifically the issue of the effectiveness of the Ohio motor fuel tax in meeting those funding needs. Not later than December 15, 2016, the Task Force shall issue a report containing its findings and recommendations to the President of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives. At that time, the Task Force shall cease to exist.

These provisions will help the state maximize resources and fully leverage the potential of Ohio’s multi-modal transportation system, which is essential to enhancing Ohio’s draw as a place where businesses can thrive and where people want to live.

The bill, Amended Substitute House Bill 53, will be voted on by the House of Representatives in early March. The Ohio Senate will begin hearings in early March and GOPC will be testifying in support of these two provisions, as well as other policy recommendations that could lead to a modern and diverse transportation system in Ohio.

GOPC applauds the House Finance Committee for its contributions to this proposed legislation.

 

GOPC Testifies on ODOT Budget

February 16th, 2015

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.

Greater Ohio Policy Center’s 2014 Accomplishments

December 19th, 2014
Greater Ohio Policy Center 2014

Happy holidays from Greater Ohio Policy Center! Pictured from left: Meg Montgomery, Lavea Brachman, Alison Goebel, Nicholas Blaine, Marianne Eppig, and Mary Pat Martin. Photo credit: Tobias Roediger of Rave, LTD.

Dear friends,

This year has been one of significant achievement for the Greater Ohio Policy Center. Throughout 2014, we have been advancing revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio’s cities and regions by leading state level advocacy efforts and demonstrating innovative practices with communities across the state.  To see a complete list of our 2014 achievements, please visit our website.

We have taken a leadership role advocating for state level policy solutions, such as legislation for the Neighborhood Infrastructure Assistance Program and critical transportation policy reforms that are linked with economic regrowth. With local partners, we have also made considerable progress assisting communities in Youngstown, Dayton, Cleveland, and Columbus by working with them to invest strategically in their neighborhoods.

Our national profile continues to grow as our research on cities has been recognized for identifying critical policy gaps and innovative solutions. This important work has also provided us with a platform to convene mayors, practitioners, and academics from across the country to discuss best practices and to highlight efforts underway in Ohio.

Next year promises to be equally, if not more, exciting for Greater Ohio Policy Center. Cities are gaining the spotlight as magnets for people and firms that are driving demand for dense, walkable places and increased transportation options. Greater Ohio Policy Center is leading efforts to ensure that Ohio’s communities—large and small—take advantage of this opportunity for reinvestment and sustainable economic growth. In 2015, we will embark on new initiatives focused on neighborhood stabilization, city innovation and revival, commercial district revitalization, water and sewer infrastructure, advocacy for increased transportation options, and much more.

We hope that you join us for our June 2015 Summit, Restoring Neighborhoods, Strengthening Economies: Innovation and Sustainable Growth in Ohio’s Cities & Regions, which will bring together national experts, state policymakers and local leaders who are transforming Ohio’s cities and regions in varied ways to forge a revitalization agenda that enhances Ohio’s 21st century economic competitiveness. Click here to learn more about the Summit.

Our 2014 successes and future initiatives would not be possible without the support of individuals like you.  Please take time to make a donation today, so that we can continue our work to create a greater Ohio.

With best wishes for a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2015,

Lavea Brachman & the Greater Ohio Policy Center staff

 

Expanding Transit Options: Lessons from the Nation’s Capital

November 3rd, 2014

By Nicholas J. Blaine, Project Coordinator

Last week I traveled to Washington D.C. to attend a roundtable on behalf of Greater Ohio Policy Center. To get from the airport to the city, I opted to use public transit in lieu of renting a car or taking a taxi. The transit system in D.C. is excellent, offering a host of buses, light rail, and bike lanes. While I was traveling, I began to think about what Ohio’s cities would need to offer a similar array of transit options.

City Populations:
Columbus 822,553
Washington D.C. 646,449
Cleveland 390,113
Cincinnati 297,517
Toledo 282,313
Dayton 143,355

Source: U.S. Census 2013 Population Estimates

A lot of it likely comes down to population dynamics. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that Washington D.C. has a population of 646,449, which swells daily due to the influx of workers and travelers to the city. Ohio’s major metros have similar populations and growing demand within their urban areas for transportation options. Additionally, D.C. and Ohio’s legacy cities face similar challenges and opportunities when it comes to creating bike friendly communities.

Once I made it to the National Mall, it was clear that biking was a popular mode of transportation in D.C. With 1,100 bikes in city’s bike sharing system and an increasing number of cyclists, Washington D.C. launched a Downtown Bike Lane Pilot Project to create separate bike lanes throughout the city’s core. Incorporating bike lanes into city and transportation corridor planning is a strategy that Ohio cities of any size can employ. As part of this project, Washington D.C. will install 14 miles of bike lanes, three miles of shared lanes, and two miles of off-street bike paths during 2014.

Pedestrian path in DC

The city’s efforts are in large part no different than those in any Ohio city seeking to expand bicycle ridership, which likely means the impact is replicable. By counting the number of riders observed on the streets, the District Department of Transportation determined in most cases that adding bike lanes more than doubles the number of riders. This, in turn, reduces the amount of traffic in other modes, such as cars.

With recently implemented bike sharing programs in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, it is clear that Ohioans have an appetite for commuting by bicycle. As Washington D.C.’s bike lane expansion demonstrates, if you build it, they will ride.

Bike path in DC

 

 

Let’s Talk Transit

October 20th, 2014

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.

 

Waterfront Development Projects in Ohio’s Major Cities

October 1st, 2014

By Octavious Singleton, GOPC Intern, and Marianne Eppig, Manager of Research & Communications

Ohio’s three largest cities—Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati—have devised strategic urban developments geared toward revamping their waterfronts, with aspirations of boosting local quality of life and economic growth.

 

Cleveland – Lakefront Development Plan

ClevelandPlan

This past June, Cleveland City Council approved legislation for its long-anticipated lakefront development project. The primary objective is to enhance accessibility of the city’s waterfront.

Dick Pace of Cumberland TCC, LCC, the developer, is expected to build about 1,000 apartments, 80,000 square feet of commercial office space, and 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space on 21 acres of the lakefront. The construction will occur in phases so that each section of the new development complements construction taking place in the downtown.

The plan capitalizes on existing anchor institutions, such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Museum, and the Browns stadium, to attract visitors to the lake and leaves space for future development—such as hotels, restaurants, and shops—as the phases of the project advance over time. While the city is funding portions of the project with public funds, the hope is that private investors will be drawn to the area and develop along the lakefront once the infrastructure is in place.

To accommodate affordable housing, Pace said that local public servants, such as teachers and police officers, who wish to live in the neighborhood will be granted reduced rent. He also mentioned that the project will honor a Community Benefits Agreement that assures that Pace will employ local apprentices from Cleveland’s Max Hayes High School and give homegrown firms a chance to work on the project.

Cleveland’s lakefront development project is strategically devised to generate more revenue, attract businesses, promote exposure, boost local quality of life, and increase the volume of tourism in the city.

 

Columbus – Scioto Greenways Project

ColumbusScioto

Planning for the redevelopment of Columbus’ downtown riverfront has been underway for the past two decades, with exciting progress taking place within the last several years. In April of 2012, the City of Columbus and Franklin County—which are major land owners on the Scioto Peninsula—asked the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation to develop a strategic land use plan for the peninsula. The idea of the Scioto Greenways project was first introduced during the public process leading up to the generation of the 2010 Downtown Strategic Plan.

The Scioto Greenways project, which is estimated to cost $35.5 million and is being funded by numerous public and private partners, involves three primary components that will revamp the area around the river. Those three components are:

  1. removing the Main Street Dam,
  2. restoring the Scioto River channel, and
  3. creating 33 acres of new green space.

The Main Street Dam was removed in late 2013, restoring the natural flow of the river and improving the ecological systems and river habitat. The riverbanks and river channel are currently under construction, but once they are completed, they will provide new recreation options and the opportunity to build upon existing investments in the area through the creation of a stunning 33-acre greenway through downtown Columbus.

This project will better connect Downtown Columbus to the Scioto Peninsula and East Franklinton by expanding on recent park investment, creating links to the existing regional bikeway system, and catalyzing further private investment in the urban core.

 

Cincinnati – The Banks

CinciBanks

Downtown Cincinnati’s riverfront between the Great American Ball Park and Paul Brown Stadium is in the midst of a  transformation. The Banks development project is turning 18 acres of undeveloped riverfront land along the Ohio River into a dynamic mixed-use “Live, Work, Play” destination.

The Banks project is part of a riverfront strategic development plan that was originally unveiled in the ‘90s. The development will incorporate residential units, office space, as well as dining, leisure and entertainment venues and will connect Cincinnati’s downtown to the waterfront via a 45-acre Riverfront Park.

Atlanta-based companies Carter and The Dawson Company, along with their capital partner USAA Real Estate Company, have been leading the development as a joint venture since 2007. The City of Cincinnati partnered with Hamilton County to provide infrastructure for the site, including a multi-modal transit facility, parking garages, street grid improvements, and utilities.

In late 2009, Phase I construction began by adding luxury apartments and street-level restaurants that opened in 2011, and further street-level retail that opened throughout 2012 and 2013. Ongoing development, which will include more residential, retail, hotel and office sites, will be completed in phases throughout a ten to fifteen year time frame.

The project is expected to add around $600 million in investment and around 1,000 permanent jobs to the local economy, according to a recent study. Already, the development is attracting new national retailers and residents to Cincinnati, which demonstrates the power of waterfront redevelopment as an asset for local quality of life and economic growth.

 

The waterfront revitalization projects in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati are expected to increase property values, encourage private investment, and contribute to vibrant communities, while improving connectivity between these cities and their beautiful water assets.

 

The 2014 Candidate’s Forum

August 25th, 2014

By Alison Goebel, Associate Director

OARC-CandidatesForum2014-Panel_cropped

The lunchtime panel at the 2014 Candidate’s Forum discussed transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and regionalism. Pictured from left: Teresa Lynch, Judge-Executive Gary Moore, Simon Kennedy, Beth Osborne, and William Murdock.

On August 22, 2014, the Greater Ohio Policy Center co-hosted the 2014 Candidates’ Forum, sponsored by the Ohio Association of Regional Councils. Focused on transportation, economic development, infrastructure, and regionalism, the forum included remarks and a question-and-answer session with each Gubernatorial campaign and an excellent lunchtime conversation with national panelists.

Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Sharen Nuehardt, spoke in the morning, emphasizing the commitment she and Candidate Fitzgerald have to support local communities’ investments in transportation and infrastructure.

At lunch, the Forum brought together Simon Kennedy, associate partner at McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm; Teresa Lynch, principal of MassEconomics, a firm that assists communities in executing regional economic development strategies; Judge-Executive Gary Moore, president of the National Association of Regional Councils, the professional voice for regional planning organizations; and Beth Osborne, vice president at Transportation for America, a research and advocacy organization focused on advancing transportation reforms.

The panelists all emphasized the need to rethink community-making as a critical component for attracting and retaining jobs, businesses, and talent. Updated digital and physical infrastructure, connectivity among modes of transportation, and a strategic focus on what a region does best economically, were themes raised by the panelists. Some time was also spent on the role of congress in preventing strong economic development planning—without a multi-year transportation budget, local governments are unable and unwilling to make the resource-intensive investments that prepare a region for long term economic success and sustainability. Read the rest of this entry »

GOPC Co-Sponsors 2014 Candidate’s Forum

August 13th, 2014

 

OARCevent

GOPC is co-sponsoring the Ohio Association of Regional Council’s 2014 Candidates’ Forum next week on Friday, August 22 at the Hilton Columbus at Easton Town Center.

At the event, the 2014 Gubernatorial Candidates have been invited to share their platforms related to transportation, infrastructure, and economic development to the state’s top political, business, and civic leaders.

A panel of national experts will also be discussing the role of transportation, infrastructure, economic development, and regionalism in preparing Ohio for long-term success.

Click here for more information and to register to attend the Forum.