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Government and Politics


NE Ohio construction jobs depending on federal money
Contractors argue for renewal of Highway Trust Fund
Story by BRIAN BULL


 
Ken Simonson argues the highway trust fund is crucial to Northeast Ohio jobs.
Courtesy of Brian Bull
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In The Region:

A new report by a construction association shows Greater Cleveland is among the top 10 metro areas that’ve added construction jobs since last year. But the prospect of a downturn looms over the news, tied to the fate of long-term federal highway funding currently stewing in Congress. For Ohio Public Radio, WCPN's Brian Bull reports:

LISTEN: Construction jobs and federal money

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Ken Simonson is chief economist for the Associated General Contractors of America.  He says the Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor area ranked 9th nationwide for metro areas seeing growth in construction jobs.

 “During the past 12 months, the Cleveland area has added 5,300 construction jobs.  That was a 15 percent increase.  While last year, 37,500 people worked in construction, today there are 41,000 construction workers employed here.”

Myron Pakush, ODOT’s District 12 deputy director, is calling for Congressional lawmakers to establish a long-term fix for the highway trust fund, so as not to disrupt the flow of money between states and contractors.

“Long-term reimbursement delays could result in future project deferrals or delays.  The passing of the highway trust fund is necessary, to keep construction job growth occurring in northeast Ohio.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation can start making cuts as early as next month, if Congress doesn’t resolve the funding issue.  One proposal is to boost the federal gas tax, which hasn’t been increased since 1993. 

Both chambers of Congress are working on legislation to temporarily replenish the Highway Trust fund.  A $10 billion House bill would fund transportation and infrastructure development through May.  A smaller $8 billion Senate version would fund projects through mid-December. 

 

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