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Ohio Senate Approves Final Version of New Two-Year Transportation Budget

Keeps Paving Projects Rolling, Improves Rail Safety and Helps Local Governments Complete In-House Projects
March 29, 2023
Matt Huffman News

COLUMBUS—Today the Ohio Senate unanimously approved the final version of the state’s new two-year transportation budget. The final details were resolved in a conference report agreed to between the two legislative chambers.

“This was a remarkably smooth process,” said Senate President Matt Huffman(R-Lima)“One of the key issues we worked on gives local governments the ability to complete smaller projects in-house without having to advertise them for bid.” 

The updated “Force” account law will help Allen county and counties across the state complete projects that have been left undone because they aren’t worth enough for contractors to bid on, but exceed the old limit of what a community could spend.  “Some of these projects are more than an eyesore, they’re an inconvenience and at times dangerous,” said President Huffman. “People will see the difference.”

The $13.5 billion budget also makes key changes to railroad safety requirements following the devastating derailment in the community of East Palestine. The Senate’s Select Committee on rail safety, and Senator Michael Rulli, who represents the community helped lead the call for the following changes:

  • Requires wayside detectors to be installed between 10-15 miles apart
  • Requires ODOT and PUCO to oversee proper installation.
  • Tasks the PUCO to examine best practices for hot boxes, hot bearing detectors, acoustic bearing detectors, and cameras installed on or near railroad tracks. 

“These real-time warning systems will help reduce the risk of another catastrophic derailment,” said Senator Michael Rulli, (R-Salem). “There is no excuse for lax safety measures, as trains commonly rumble through intersections and neighborhoods across Ohio.”

Transportation Chair, Senator Stephanie Kunze, (R-Dublin) complimented the bipartisan good faith effort in crafting this important bill.

"I am grateful for the commitment to Ohio’s largest physical investment, our roads and bridges," said Kunze. "This will ensure they will continue to serve our constituents and those who travel through our beautiful state in the years to come.”

The budget also addresses the critical need for funding to repair road slips in hilly southern Ohio. $10 million dollars is funded through the public works commission for emergency slip repair. “Hillside slips literally wipe out the pavement, blocking the road and leading to life-threatening delays for EMS crews when minutes count,” said Senator Frank Hoagland, (R-Mingo Junction). “This is a critical investment for people driving those roads in Southern Ohio.”

The Transportation Budget is funded by the state’s Motor Fuel Tax{MFT}, more commonly called the gas tax.

Read the bill here.