Watch a previous report on the transportation budget in the player above.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A two-year transportation bill for the state, which includes what elected officials are calling historic safety and public transit provision, is on its way to the Ohio Senate.
The bill was approved by the Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday. As passed, the budget will spend $12.6 billion on the state’s transportation system in the next two years.
One of the amendments added to the budget in the House Finance Committee calls for the state to invest in railway safety, a move that comes as the community of East Palestine continues to deal with a toxic train derailment from early February.
The amendment calls for, among other measures, the state to work with each railway that operates in the state to maintain and, if necessary, install wayside detector systems – electronic devices that scan passing trains for defects.
The amendment also requires train operators to require two-person crews on all trains moving through the state.
“The transportation budget delivers bipartisan wins to protect the safety of Ohioans, especially in the area of rail safety,” said Rep. Mary Lightbody (D-Westerville) in a press release. “In this bill when a wayside defect detector on a train track identifies a fault in a passing train, that information must be shared with the operators on the train so they will be able to take corrective actions.”
Another expenditure in the budget is for the Rural Highway Fund, a $1 billion investment for projects in counties that don’t have a municipality of more than 65,000 residents. Proponents said the fund would help reduce commute times for rural residents and keep those residents in their homes instead of them having to move to find work.
The budget also includes $2.2 billion for pavement projects, $717 million for bridges, $360 million for safety upgrades, and $1.5 billion for large traffic capacity-adding projects, which those in favor of the budget said will create jobs for local contractors and small businesses.
“This is a jobs bill,” Ohio Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville), chairman of the finance committee, said in a press release. “This robust investment in Ohio’s infrastructure will move our state forward and strengthen our economic prosperity. Communities across the state will reap the benefits of this budget – whether that be through local projects or an increase in workforce opportunities.”
The transportation budget now moves to the Ohio Senate.