Transportation Applications Exceed Funds Available
For the current round of Surface Transportation Block Grants (STBG), TMACOG has received 39 applications requesting a total of about $60 million. There is about $14 million available for appropriation.
Transportation Planner Lance Dasher said, “This pot of money (STBG) doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of our MPO area.” TMACOG’s Metropolitan Planning Organization area is Lucas and Wood counties and the three southern townships of Monroe County. However, the TIP only funds STBG projects that are in Ohio. STBG is one of the largest funding programs for road repair and improvements. There are other funds that governments can apply for if their projects qualify. These funds are based on the type of project (bridge, road resurfacing, bike path) and location (rural or urban area). However, those sources generally will not pay the amount of money needed for many of our region’s necessary transportation projects and competition for available dollars is intense.
The TMACOG Transportation Legislative Agenda has addressed this ongoing shortfall in transportation funding with many suggestions and recommendations. Options to ensure the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund include increasing the gas tax, establishing user fees, tolling, or indexing taxes to vehicle miles travelled. The federal gas tax, which is currently the major source of funding for federal-aid-eligible roadways, has not been raised since 1993. When the Transportation Legislative Agenda is next revised, those options will again be reviewed and presented for consideration.
In addition to the shortfall in federal transportation dollars, Ohio’s revenue sharing program has reduced local funds that could be allocated to roads. Increasingly, Ohio MPO’s have also been asked to show local participation in state projects, which reduces available funds to local jurisdictions.