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Ohio’s Travel Choices underscore National Transportation Investment Effort

“Transportation for America” report part of Ohio's 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force research

COLUMBUS (October 15, 2008) – Numbers from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for the first half of 2008 suggest that more Ohioans are choosing different ways to travel – a point underscoring a national transportation advocacy group’s call for greater targeted federal investments in public transit, rail, and the nation’s aging infrastructure.

At the national level, Americans drove an estimated 53.2 billion miles less for the first six months of 2008 than they did over the same time period a year earlier. Analysis by ODOT shows that during that same time frame, Ohio motorists drove 1.1 billion miles less.

“That decrease in travel is equivalent to three-and-a-half days worth of fewer trips being made,” said ODOT Director James Beasley. “That directly translates to a decrease in state and federal motor fuel tax being collected at a time when construction costs are at record highs.”

In the search for alternatives, a growing number of Americans turned to transit, taking 2.8 billion rides on public transit in just months of April through June - up 5 percent from the year before. In Ohio, the 59 transit systems which receive state funding serviced more than 70.6 million rides in the first six months of 2008, an increase of 6.72% from the same time in 2007.

“I applaud the efforts of the Transportation for America Campaign to work with the next president and Congress on targeting new federal investments to fixing the thousands of roads and bridges in failing condition across our country,” added Director Beasley. “Just as important as ‘fixing it first’ is the need to modernize our multi-modal system – with new investments in rail and transit.”

The Transportation for America Campaign - a national coalition represented locally by Greater Ohio - is calling for a new method of looking at transportation needs, including the call for a re-evaluation of pending highway projects with “little economic return that could deepen Americans’ dependence on oil and gasoline.”

The group’s report is being included in research gathered by the Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force, whose recommendations to ODOT are expected by the end of this year.

Empanelled by Governor Strickland in April, the task force was charged with envisioning Ohio’s future transportation system - determining how the state can best balance the movement of people and freight, create jobs and generate economic development, and link all modes of transportation.

This task force, comprised of experts from private, governmental and public advocacy sectors, also examined new ways to finance this optimum system. Among its final recommendations, the task force is expected to detail several new funding tools for state and local governments, a call for greater investment by Ohio’s federal partners, and innovative financial options to partner with the private sector.

Learn more about the Transportation for America Campaign at http://t4america.org
or visit Greater Ohio at www.greaterohio.org
For more information on ODOT, contact Scott Varner, Central Office Communications, at (614) 644-8640.