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Let’s Not Forget to Rescue Our Roads and Bridges with COVID Relief Funds

Posted April 21, 2021

Guest Editorial by T.J. Ackermann

Apr 15th, 2021

The city of Cincinnati is projected to receive approximately $290 million from the American Rescue Plan, which provides significant relief to states and localities at a critical time as the U.S. transitions toward economic recovery. Hamilton County, our region’s most populous government jurisdiction, has been targeted to obtain $158 million. In total, the region, including Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana, is poised to receive $900 million from the $1.9 trillion federal pot.

As the local jurisdictions in the Greater Cincinnati region prepare to determine the best use of these relief funds, the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati urges these entities to ensure transportation infrastructure projects are included in this unprecedented economic relief package.

States and local transportation revenues were hit hard by COVID-19, with 49 states publicly projecting declines. State departments of transportation are facing at least $18 billion in estimated revenue shortfall through 2024. During 2020, many states and localities announced delays or cancellations of transportation improvement projects totaling over $12 billion.

They included:

  • Deferring capital, maintenance, and reconstruction projects;
  • Eliminating the funding of bike trails and walking paths;
  • Delaying roads, sidewalks, and bridge projects; and
  • Reducing expenditures for water and sewer improvements.

These real-world impacts of reduced transportation revenues highlight the opportunity presented by the American Rescue Plan’s investment to assist state and local governments with current capital and operational challenges.

While the entire Greater Cincinnati region has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, those impacts are unique in each state and community. As such, designating these anticipated funds for transportation and utility infrastructure (GCWW and MSD) will have a maximum benefit on all who call our region home. We urge local governments in the Greater Cincinnati region to specifically target a significant portion of their allocations towards much-needed infrastructure projects.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg recently testified to Congress that the American Rescue Plan “has some flexibility in it that I do think can be used to support to a significant degree those road budgets that have been impacted.” We couldn’t agree more!

T.J. Ackermann is the 2021 president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Cincinnati, established in 1934, representing the residential construction industry throughout the region.