Ohio's infrastructure averaged a C- grade in the American Society of Civil Engineers' "2021 Report Card for Ohio’s Infrastructure," released Feb. 11.
“We found that Ohio has improved some infrastructure areas over the last 10 years, but we also learned that we still have a lot of work to do to improve many grades,” said Craig Hebebrand, ASCE Ohio Council president. “We do these assessments to help citizens and decision-makers understand how Ohio’s infrastructure is faring and what can be done to modernize its systems.”
The state earned grades from B to D for 16 categories of public infrastructure. Those were: bridges, C+; dams, C-; drinking water, D+; energy, C; hazardous waste, D+; inland waterways, D+; levees, D; parks, C-; ports, C; rail, B; roads, D; schools, C+; solid waste, B-; stormwater, D+; transit, D; and wastewater, C-.
Rail infrastructure received the highest grade of a B, due to a significant investment in technology that cut the volume of rail incidents in half over the last 20 years. Ohio has the fourth-largest number of public rail and highway grade crossings in the nation (5,737), and the state spends about $15 million annually on public crossings.
Ohio's 12 intermodal terminal facilities have the second-highest volume in the nation. The state's roadways and bridges carry the third-highest freight volume in the U.S., and its 5,188 miles of railroad track alone carry approximately 100 million tons of freight annually.
"Thanks to the leadership of Gov. Mike DeWine (R) to get an increase in funding for transportation approved by the General Assembly nearly two years ago, Ohio finds itself in a much better position than most states," says Lloyd MacAdam, chief engineer and assistant director for transportation policy at the Ohio Dept. of Transportation.
"Those funds have allowed ODOT to continue maintaining our roads and bridges, safety projects and local programs without interruption, despite funding headwinds due to COVID-19. We still have much work to do, but without these resources, our situation would be dire, at best,” MacAdam says.
Levees, roads and transit all received Ds, the lowest grade given to Ohio infrastructure in the report. Ohio’s levees protect 151,000 residents and $27.5 billion in property, yet 54% of those residents are living behind a levee that has not been screened and could be at risk of failure. The average age of Ohio’s levees is 47 years, nearing a projected design life of 50 years.
The report notes an extensive, long-term lack of transit funding in the state, down from $42.3 million in 2000 to $6.6 million in 2018. The passage of Ohio House Bill 62, pushed by DeWine and passed in 2019, was intended to increase state funding for transit to $70 million in 2020 and 2021. Due to COVID-19, however, those funds have already been reduced to $66.8 million and $56 million.
Similarly, the 2019 transportation budget increased the motor fuel tax and vehicle registration fees, but with fewer people driving due to the pandemic, fuel tax revenues have fallen short of original projections.
The full report is available at ASCE's website.