Infrastructure Plan

Whether we drink a glass of water with breakfast, drive or ride to work, or check our email, Ohioans depend on our state’s infrastructure every single day. It shapes the commute time to work and school, the cost of groceries at the store, and the size of our electricity and water bills. Our roads and bridges determine where companies locate and where jobs are created.

But we have allowed our infrastructure to fall into disrepair, and the results are hurting Ohio’s ability to compete in an increasingly global marketplace. Those flat tires from potholes and dents from debris add up: driving on roads in need of repair costs Ohio $12 billion each year in direct costs, wasted time, and extra depreciation. Meanwhile, our aging airports struggle to compete with their global competitors while outdated public water systems threaten our children’s health.

Our economy depends on safe roads, public transportation, broadband access, reliable energy, and clean water. But our roads and bridges, water and sewer lines, energy grid, and broadband network did not develop by accident, nor will they keep working without deliberate and thoughtful investment. Otherwise, conditions will only get worse and cost middle-class families more money while areas with poor infrastructure will see businesses and jobs relocate elsewhere.

As Ohio continues to grow, each part of our infrastructure must keep pace for our state to remain competitive and its businesses to expand and serve their customers.

What the Cordray-Sutton Administration Will Do:

  • Introduce a major, forward-thinking bond package on the ballot for voters to approve.
    Past bond programs have ignored the needs of public transit and broadband. By increasing the dollars available for all our areas of need, we will move Ohio forward.
  • Stretch each dollar available by partnering with local governments and private businesses.
    Whether it’s sharing lessons learned from Smart Columbus with other counties or working with all stakeholders to bring broadband down that “last mile” to a rural farmer, we will eliminate silos and bring us together.

Beyond the two solutions above, there is more that can be done for each part of our infrastructure. We must make smart use of the funds and tools we have, which is why we propose the following:

Repairing and Maintaining our Roads, Bridges, and Freight Facilities
  • What’s holding Ohio back
    In Ohio, approximately
    one-third of our major urban roads and highways are in “poor” or “mediocre” condition. We have some of the most structurally deficient bridges in the nation. Those conditions cost drivers $3.5 billion each year directly in extra vehicle operating costs. Bumpier roads mean that cars break down more easily, burn through more fuel, and wear through more tires. In our largest cities, these conditions lead to more traffic delays, costing each driver as much as $1,057 annually in lost time and wasted fuel.Businesses face the same challenges. Without a safe, dependable, and efficient transportation system that gets Ohioans and freight from point A to point B, our economy cannot grow. Our airports, water ports, and intermodal facilities connect Ohio businesses to the rest of the world, and they do not function as well as they should without the proper maintenance.

  • What will move Ohio forward:
    Work with the White House and USDOT to advocate for a national infrastructure package. The current administration is leveraging its federal investment in infrastructure by increasing state and local government’s share for infrastructure projects. Ohio once had an office in Washington, D.C. that advocated for our interests. As Governor, I would reopen that office to place Ohio at the forefront as decisions about infrastructure are made at the federal level.

  • Create a State Data Exchange dedicated to transportation and infrastructure. I would also create a State Data Exchange that houses public and voluntary private data to improve collaboration, innovation, safety initiatives, and overall quality of life. Cities would pool best practices that could translate into smart mobility efforts for smaller cities. The Data Exchange would also create an inventory of all state-owned property and determine which could be sold off or repurposed to support local infrastructure and economic development projects.  

Investing in Public Transportation
  • What’s holding Ohio back:
    Ohio spends less on public transit than 42 states. This year, the state allocated less than 1% of its multi-billion-dollar transportation budget to the public transit system. As a result, 27 counties in Ohio have no public transit, a gap that spans every corner of the state. We are stranding thousands of Ohioans with mobility issues – either because of age or a disability – without affordable options to work and engage in their communities.Because state funding for public transportation has not kept pace with demand for its services, too many Ohioans lack access to jobs, education, and health care. To land and keep a job, workers need dependable transportation from their home to their workplace. But many Ohioans cannot get to jobs and many employers cannot fill open positions. In the Cincinnati region, only 60% of all jobs are reachable by public transit. We need robust public transportation services in Ohio that enable workers to safely, reliably, and efficiently get to their jobs. Providing such a system would expand the talent pool for employers, enabling them to fill open positions and boost economic activity. As the next generation of workers demands access to public transportation, cities and towns that provide those services will attract more businesses to Ohio. The Cordray-Sutton administration will fight to secure the necessary funding, so that everyone can get where they need to go.

  • What will move Ohio forward:
    Dedicate state funding to public transportation. Twenty-five states currently have a dedicated source of funding specifically set aside for public transportation. No funding source exists in Ohio. As Governor, I would consider establishing one focusing on supporting innovation, deriving funds from existing revenue sources to ensure that workers can connect to jobs and Ohio’s most vulnerable people have access to reliable transit options.

  • Make our cities more accessible. Recent research says more walkable infrastructure is vital for cities to keep businesses and attract a talented workforce. Nearly a third of all car trips taken in this country are a mile or less in length – the equivalent of a 20-minute walk. Our older individuals and people with mobility issues need accessible paths that allow them easy transport. Moving short trips out of cars where possible and onto sidewalks or micro-transit options would provide benefits from an economic, public health, and environmental perspective. Investing in more walkable and accessible infrastructure is not a luxury but an essential component of making our communities more equitable and sustainable.

Expanding Access to Broadband
  • What’s holding Ohio back
    Access to the internet is no longer a luxury: it is a necessity to compete in the modern economy. Broadband access in Ohio, however, remains poor. One-third of Ohio’s rural households lack access to modern digital tools because of where they live, compounding inequities in school funding and other public services. Lack of access impacts all of us: Researchers estimate that expanding broadband to all Ohio households would have an economic benefit of $728 million each year. Low-income residents in Ohio’s largest cities also face obstacles. Across the state, one million Ohioans have access to only one internet provider, leaving them at the mercy of broadband companies that can charge higher prices and provide unreliable service for too many people. As technology improves, Ohioans are paying more for internet speeds that remain quite slow by international standards. Businesses sometimes struggle to find service that meets their data and service needs, and farmers need reliable access while planting and testing their crops.
  • What will move Ohio forward:
    Establish a state Office of ConnectivityOhio does not have a single state office or agency that coordinates the state’s broadband policy, leaving broadband policy to be decided by a tangled web of various state agencies and departments. Coordinating these efforts will lower costs and accelerate efforts to expand affordable access throughout the state and provide training to use it.

    Give local governments more flexibility and support. The Cordray-Sutton administration will work with local governments to get them the flexibility and tools they need to bring broadband to every corner of the state and solve the issue of “last-mile” access. We encourage private providers to continue to participate in the Connect America Fund, and will help localities directly in their efforts to expand broadband access, offering targeted incentives to those towns and cities working to provide high-speed internet for their citizens.

    Leverage existing dollars to providing training opportunities. Access to broadband alone means nothing without the skills to use it. Since 2010, Connect Ohio has been awarded $7 million in federal grants for Ohio’s Broadband Initiative to providing training and assistance in accessing the internet. We will restore local government dollars, including those used to support workforce training and library training programs, to ensure everyone has the skills to take advantages of the 21st century economy.

Investing in Underground Infrastructure
  • What’s holding Ohio back:
    Ohio is a water-rich state, and ensuring access to clean water and efficient sewer systems is essential to keeping Ohioans healthy. According to the Ohio Environmental Council, 90 percent of Ohioans get their drinking water from rivers and streams. Unfortunately, nearly half of Ohio’s waterways do not meet the standards required under federal and state law. We must better protect Ohio’s water resources from pollution and restore our older water and sewer systems.

  • What will move Ohio forward:
    Establish a statewide funding plan for Ohio’s water quality needs. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Ohio will need to spend $13.4 billion over the next 20 years to fully fund the state’s drinking water projects. To make that goal a reality, we should consider making better use of the Ohio Water Development Authority. This department will take the lead on creating and implementing a new statewide plan for addressing Ohio’s water system needs, much like the Transportation Review Advisory Council has done for Ohio’s transportation needs.

  • Protect Ohio’s Lakes and Rivers.
    Ohio is surrounded by lakes and rivers that are both important natural resources and economic drivers. Our interior lakes and rivers deserve the same level of attention. The Cordray-Sutton administration will participate in regional partnerships such as the Council of the Great Lakes.We will also create partnerships where none exist. We will create a Council of State Lakes to share best practices and spread new ideas that can help tackle old challenges. We will convene regional conferences of the local governments, businesses and stakeholders that sit along our rivers to discuss concerns and methods to improve water quality and encourage their recreational use. We pledge to work with Kentucky to ensure Ohio can take full advantage of the Ohio River and all the economic benefits available from such an important waterway.