Ohio lawmakers passed legislation this week approving nearly $700 million in federal transportation funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed earlier this year.
Under the bill, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) would get $672,598,581 in federal highway construction money authorized under the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. ODOT would also get an additional $18.3 million from the federal government for public transportation.
House Bill 338 passed both the Ohio Senate and House by wide margins. Along with the transportation funding, the bill also authorizes the state’s transportation director to award contracts of up to $1.5 billion in design/build contracts to renovate the functionally obsolete Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati.
ODOT is looking to hire a management team for Ohio and Kentucky’s $2.8 billion plan to renovate the nearly 60-year-old bridge over the Ohio River. The project would build a new bridge alongside it and widen nearby highways.
HB338 states that ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks could seek to award design/build contracts that exceed $1.5 billion, but only if he first gets permission from the Ohio Controlling Board, a panel composed chiefly of state legislators that approves spending requests from state agencies.
If signed by Governor Mike DeWine, the bill would allow Ohio to enter into agreements with other states to help collect tolls owed by out-of-state residents by refusing applications or transfers of motor vehicle registration until the tolls get paid.
The legislation would also allow current and former military members to obtain a commercial driver’s license without needing to pass a knowledge test.
If signed into law, the bill would also permit any regional transit authority (RTA) in the state to issue revenue bonds backed by the proceeds of the RTA’s own sales tax.