With the awarding of $138 million in contracts to complete the U.S. Route 33 Nelsonville Bypass, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s (ODOT’s) single largest stimulus investment is ready for construction.
Combined with the transportation infrastructure contracts awarded so far using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ODOT has awarded more than $374.2 million for construction work on 110 projects — a combination of interstate, local roadway and bridge modernization projects.
For the month of July alone, these investments by the state lead to the retention and creation of 1,138 direct jobs on stimulus-funded transportation construction projects, with workers clocking in more than 42,000 hours in labor and a total payroll of nearly $1.5 million.
“Ohio is making historic levels of investment into every mode of our multi-modal transportation system in every region of the state,” said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris. “Because of the leadership in Washington to advance the Recovery Act, ODOT is investing, overseeing, and monitoring more than $1.1 billion in transportation stimulus funds made available to our state.”
Advancing the Nelsonville Bypass
In late August, ODOT awarded the final of two phases of construction for the 8-mi. (12.8 km) Nelsonville Bypass project. Kokosing Construction Company was awarded the $45.2 million contract for phase two; earlier in August Beaver Excavating Company was awarded the $92.88 million contract for phase three. Construction on phase one of the project was completed earlier this summer.
The Nelsonville Bypass has been on the state’s radar since the late 1960’s, however, the 1973 Oil and Gas Embargo halted further planning due to lack of transportation funds. With funding from the Recovery Act, ODOT was able to advance construction on the historical bypass five years earlier than scheduled.
With up to $150 million of stimulus funds to be invested in this project, the Nelsonville Bypass represents ODOT’s largest single investment of stimulus funds. The largest stimulus-funded project in the state is the Interstate 90 Innerbelt Bridge in Downtown Cleveland, estimated at $400 million (including $85 million in stimulus funds).
ODOT estimates show that U.S. 33 carries more than 1,700 trucks daily from Columbus to Charleston, W.Va., making it the eighth busiest truck route in Ohio. U.S. 33 through Nelsonville — where it currently narrows from a four lane highway to a two-lane local roadway - carries roughly 1,500 heavy load trucks per day. The Nelsonville Bypass is the final upgrade of U.S. 33 in southeast Ohio, providing safe, efficient routes in the heart of Appalachia.
Making Investments in Ohio’s Urban Areas
More than 150 transportation projects have been prioritized for stimulus funding by Ohio’s eight major Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) which were directly sub-allocated $161.5 million in transportation infrastructure stimulus funds.
To date, FHWA has authorized more than $47.5 million in projects sponsored by the MPOs in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown.
These urban investments by the state’s largest MPOs are in addition to the nearly $420 million in stimulus-funded transportation infrastructure projects committed to by ODOT in urban areas around the state.
In addition, more than $134.5 million in transit-specific stimulus funds through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) have been approved and obligated for urban transit investments across the state. These investments will assist 27 regional and local transit agencies in the purchase of new buses and equipment, construction of new facilities, and operating costs, on a limited basis.
FTA also has approved and obligated ODOT’s plans for $20.6 million in stimulus-funded investments in Ohio’s rural transit agencies.
With these approvals from FTA, all of Ohio’s transit systems have their entire ARRA apportionment obligated or have sufficient funds obligated that no funds will lapse.
To track the number of jobs being created and retained by Ohio’s stimulus investments, ODOT requires all contractors to complete monthly reports on the direct, on-the-project jobs associated with stimulus-funded projects.
For the month of July, Ohio contractors reported 1,138 direct jobs, working a total of 42,279 hours and earning a total payroll of $1,470,499.
This job data only includes employees actively engaged in stimulus-funded projects on the job site, in the project office, in the home office or other alternative office locations. These numbers do not account for the thousands of jobs being created and retained by firms that provide materials and equipment used in highway construction, or those jobs supported by consumer expenditures resulting from wages to “construction oriented” and “supporting industries” employees.
The monthly employment report for August will be available in mid-September.
Investing in More Construction-Related Jobs
As part of ODOT’s original announcement of the projects to be advanced with ARRA funds, the department targeted $57 million for necessary planning and design work to advance some of the state’s most transformational regional long-term projects.
After close consultation with the Federal Highway Administration and the US Department of Transportation, ODOT instead directed those dollars to shorter-term projects, aimed at creating and retaining construction-related jobs quickly. By selecting projects in which future state funding had already identified, ODOT is able to reinvest, dollar-for-dollar, in the continued planning and design of those regional projects, including the Cleveland Opportunity Corridor, Cincinnati Eastern Corridor, and the Ohio Hub High Speed Rail Plan.
As announced in June, a majority of the $57 million of ARRA stimulus funding was invested in nine state roadway and bridge projects. The remaining resources will be dedicated to six pavement modernization projects, which were previously identified for state funding. Those existing ODOT projects include:
• Brown County/State Route 32 pavement modernization — $4,989,548
• Fayette County/State Route 41 pavement modernization — $1,479,000
• Noble County/State Route 145 pavement modernization — $3,300,000
• Fairfield County/State Route 204 pavement modernization — $1,968,349
• Sandusky County/State Routes 600/300 pavement modernization — $4,000,000
• Wood County/State Route 582 pavement modernization — $1,500,000
An up-to-date list of the transportation infrastructure projects prioritized for stimulus funding — with updates on projects which have been authorized by FHWA, contracts which have been awarded, and new employment opportunities — can be found online at: www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Communications/Pages/FederalStimulusProjectListing.aspx.