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Governor talks projects & jobs in Mansfield

March 28, 2009

Terricha Bradley
Mansfield News Journal

MANSFIELD — Gov. Ted Strickland visited Mansfield on Friday as part of a statewide swing to highlight infrastructure projects approved for federal stimulus funds.

"As we put resources to work, we will do so quickly and efficiently," said Strickland, who spent the morning in Akron and Youngstown and traveled to Cleveland later in the day.

Ohio's priority projects listed Thursday ranged from roads to port improvements, which the governor said likely never would have been funded without the help of $774 million in federal stimulus money.

About $2.7 million of that will go toward projects in Mansfield — $1.6 million to finish building the new Airport West Industrial Park and $1.1 million toward Mansfield Streetscape renovations.

State Rep. Jay P. Goyal, D-Mansfield, Mansfield Mayor Don Culliver and other state and local officials accompanied Strickland at Friday’s news conference at Gorman-Rupp Industries.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced Thursday that $228,000 in federal recovery funds were allocated to help Mansfield save on utility costs.

Strickland told reporters the 149 transportation-related projects statewide that received grants will create or retain more than 21,000 jobs, with thousands of additional jobs spurred by economic development.

Half the funding would be allocated within 120 days, he said, to jumpstart the economy.

However, the federal money currently is tied up in the state’s two-year $7.5 billion transportation budget proposal, which is stuck in negotiations between the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate. A number of thorny issues remain, including a disagreement over who will have eventual authority to approve a passenger rail project among major cities.

"I am very concerned," said Strickland, a Democrat. "But we are continuing to work, at least on our side, in good faith to try to come to a resolution of the serious remaining challenges that we face."

Strickland said federal allocations will include:

— $603.5 million for 113 road projects;

— $34.5 million for five improvement projects along the state’s waterways, including at the Port of Toledo;

— $50.9 million for improving connections for shipments by air, rail and truck at places such as Franklin County’s Rickenbacker Airport;

— $16.2 million will go for additional planning and engineering as needs become known.

"These projects will move Ohio toward a more multi-modal system of transportation that links Ohio’s businesses, highways, railways, transit and ports into an advanced and efficient network for moving goods and people," Strickland said.

The job estimates are based on a federal model that takes into account historical data for how many jobs have been created when the government spends a certain amount of money on infrastructure projects.

The Ohio Department of Transportation budget also includes stimulus funds designated to the state’s 12 districts. District 3, including Richland County, will receive $22.7 million.

ODOT Director Jolene Molitoris said Mansfield and Richland County understand transportation means business.

"I hope you feel very fortunate," she told those attending the news conference Friday. "We are very fortunate to invest money here in Mansfield to invest in growth."