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Major New Multi-Modal Transportation Projects recommended for Funding

TRAC  proposes $103.2 million in new construction, project planning and engineering

 COLUMBUS (Friday, March 19, 2010) - Using a new scoring system that emphasizes transportation investments connected to jobs creation and economic development, Ohio’s Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) is recommending $103.2 million in new state funding commitments into several multi-modal projects across the state.

 The TRAC - the independent committee that assists the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) in selecting its largest investments - unveiled its 2010 draft listing of major new construction projects. In addition to projects that are already under construction, the list includes projects ready for new construction and projects that will be studied and designed for potential construction in the future.

 Over the 2010-2014 planning horizon, the TRAC is recommending more than $2.5 billion of total investments by ODOT through its Major New Construction Program, which targets all multi-modal projects more than $5 million in cost that add capacity to the state transportation system.

 The list unveiled yesterday includes more than $36.1 million in proposed new construction investments, including $14.5 million in new funds to modernize and reconfigure the Interstate 75 West Carrolton interchange near Dayton - a project that will ignite redevelopment near the former General Motors Moraine Assembly plant.

 The TRAC also recommended $67 million in new planning, design, and right-of-way work, including $15 million toward the Cincinnati Streetcar plan, a project that would connect the city’s two largest employment centers of Uptown and Downtown with electric streetcars operating on fixed rail, and $3 million for detailed design work on the State Route 7 Chesapeake Bypass to help ease congestion and spur economic development in Southern Ohio.

 “We are building our state for the future,” said ODOT Director Jolene M. Molitoris, who also chairs the nine-member TRAC. “These recommendations reflect Governor Strickland's focus on creating jobs and positioning Ohio to compete in a global economy.”

 Over the past several months, ODOT and members of the TRAC reviewed more than 100 project applications submitted by communities and transportation partners throughout Ohio. The TRAC also held a series of regional public hearings around the state to meet with project sponsors.

 Using new scoring criteria approved in 2008, the TRAC prioritized projects using a benefit/cost ratio, added to measure the full public benefit of the project, not just traffic and congestion. An enhanced economic development category also scored whether projects reclaim brownfields or improve access to job centers and job ready sites. The new scoring also emphasized the need for land use planning and “Smart Growth” strategies, and rewarded communities who partner with state on investments in transportation.

 Public comment on this draft list of investments is being accepted through May 3. The TRAC is expected to finalize the list at its meeting May 13.

At its meeting yesterday in Columbus, the TRAC also voted to advance two major projects under its new FAST TRAC initiative, a process aimed at expediting construction of major infrastructure investments that can quickly have a profound economic development impact on a region.

 Placed on the FAST TRAC were portions of the Banks project in downtown Cincinnati. This redevelopment of the riverfront area between Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park includes a new transit/intermodal facility. ODOT will invest $10.2 million from its Major New Program - to leverage $8 million in federal stimulus funds - to improve sections of Freedom Way and Race Street as they connect to the intermodal center.

 Also on the FAST TRAC is Ohio’s $30 million stimulus award for the CSX National Gateway - part of a $98 million multi-state award through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant Program. In partnership with the Ohio Rail Development Commission, ODOT will use the funds to improve bridges and freight rail lines to allow trains to carry double-stack containers to shipping facilities in Ohio and the Midwest.

The complete 2010 TRAC draft list of Major New projects - as well as information about public comment - is available online at www.dot.state.oh.us/TRAC.

For more information contact: Scott Varner, ODOT Central Office Communications, at 614-644-8640

or Sharon Smigielski, District 8 Communications, at 513-933-6511