The Road to Recovery: Analysis of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Transportation Funds in Ohio

December 21, 2009

The investment of public funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 has stabilized the economy and created jobs across Ohio and the nation. The intent of the federal stimulus includes assisting those most impacted by the recession; creating jobs; and repairing and upgrading the nation’s infrastructure. In this analysis, we reviewed distribution patterns in three primary transportation programs to determine how Ohio addressed the intent of the federal law. We found that in Ohio, economic distress was targeted in both rural and urban areas. Primary cities, where the economic need is high, population dense and infrastructure old, were targeted for investment. Ohio will be adding more new capacity in interchanges and wider roads and bypasses than is typical for the nation, even though maintenance and repair and investment in mass transit can create more jobs than construction of new highway miles.

Policy Matters released an initial version of this report in November. The portion of that report that focused on the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) spending was data driven and considered all MPO funding together. After hearing strong concerns from MPOs, we decided that the analysis would be strengthened by incorporating interviews and by some revisions in categories. This report incorporates those revisions, including interviews with seven of the eight MPOs. As a result of those discussions, this revised analysis contains more discussion of methodology. As in our original analysis, we found that the MPOs as a whole spent more money in suburban communities than in primary cities (like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Akron).

We conclude that the ARRA transportation funds did a good job of targeting need and creating jobs and we end with recommendations to ensure maximum job creation, need-targeting, and urban investment from future use of federal funds.

Executive Summary

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