ODOT’s Stimulus Investments Spurring More Construction Jobs

Mon June 29, 2009 - Midwest Edition
CEG




With the awarding of more than $36.9 million in construction contracts, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is spurring the creation and retention of hundreds of construction-related jobs by investing federal stimulus funds into 29 roadway and bridges projects across the state.

Combined with the contracts awarded so far using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ODOT has awarded more than $83.9 million in contracts for work on 52 projects — a combination of interstate, local roadway and bridge modernization projects.

As contracts are awarded, construction companies begin to mobilize workers for these jobs. Jobs also are being created and retained by firms that provide materials and equipment used in highway construction, and those jobs supported by consumer expenditures resulting from wages to “construction oriented” and “supporting industries” employment.

On June 18, crews began work on the state’s latest stimulus-funded project to get under way: replacement of the State Route 83 bridge near North Ridgeville in Lorain County, where 7,690 motorists travel daily to and from the State Route 10 interchange, accessing the Ohio Turnpike and Interstate 480 for work, school, and shipping operations.

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. This included the Cleveland Opportunity Corridor, Cincinnati Eastern Corridor, and the Ohio Hub High Speed Rail Plan.

While agreeing that these projects are eligible for funding under the Recovery Act, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation expressed a preference that stimulus funds be directed toward construction-ready projects. After close consultation with the FHWA and USDOT, the Ohio Department of Transportation will instead direct these dollars to shorter-term projects, aimed at creating and retaining construction-related jobs quickly.

ODOT remains committed to working with local leaders on these three important large-scale projects and will use non-stimulus funds (both state and federal) to invest in the continued planning and design, dollar-for-dollar, as committed to by the department in its March announcement.

A majority of the $57 million in ARRA stimulus funding (approximately $30 million) will be invested in nine additional state roadway and bridge projects; the remaining ARRA resources will be dedicated to existing ODOT transportation projects.

A complete 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: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Communications/Pages/FederalStimulusProjectListing.aspx

Connecting Ohio Workers to Jobs

To track the number of jobs being created and retained by these investments, ODOT continues to work closely with companies awarded contracts funded by Recovery Act resources.

ODOT is requiring all contractors to complete monthly reports on the direct, on-the-project jobs associated with stimulus-funded projects. This job data will include employees actively engaged in projects on the job site, in the project office, in the home office or other alternative office location. This also includes any engineering personnel, inspectors, sampling and testing technicians, and lab technicians performing work directly in support of the stimulus-funded project.

Along with addition reporting requirements, these contractors must post any new job opportunities at www.OhioMeansJobs.com, Ohio’s online source to match job seekers with employment openings across the state.

Meeting Federal Deadlines

Under ARRA requirements, ODOT must have authorized approximately $327.5 million of its $774 million stimulus allocation by June 29, 2009. The remaining amount must be authorized by March 1, 2010. States that meet these timeline requirements can compete for additional money lost by other states that fail to meet these deadlines.

To meet this deadline, ODOT has so far requested authorization of $325.6 million in stimulus investments, including strategic projects at Ohio’s water port and along its railroads. Of that amount, FHWA to date has authorized $285 million in projects.

Transportation Investments Across State

ODOT also continues to partner with 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 $20.2 million in projects sponsored by the MPOs in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown.

Ohio also is receiving approximately $180 million in transit-specific stimulus funds through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The first project to be authorized by the FTA is in Toledo, where the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority will invest $8.5 million for 21 small buses and 15 35-ft. buses. Additional stimulus-funded transit projects are expected to be authorized in the coming weeks.