We applaud Butler County Commissioners Leslie Osche, Kim Geyer and Kevin Boozel for their leadership in advancing a measure to raise critically needed local investment in essential transportation and infrastructure projects in Butler County that will make our region more competitive. The measure, which unanimously passed on July 18, will generate more than $900,000 annually to support a number of ongoing road and bridge projects that, to be completed, need these extra funds. The funding will be raised through an additional $5 fee for most vehicle registrations in the county. Counties are allowed to raise this local investment as a result of Act 89.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, this local funding measure will be enormously helpful in attracting additional state and federal dollars to advance larger road and bridge improvement projects, such as the Route 228 project. Butler County is seeking $25 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s BUILD grant program to address the most significant transportation challenges along Route 228. These challenges include inadequate capacity, excessive number of crashes and fatalities, and lack of access to key employment centers, schools, and residential neighborhoods. If awarded, the federal funds will create new opportunities to connect Butler County residents to employment centers, impacting the flexibility and mobility of the workforce, and improve the overall functionality of an important corridor in our region.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is expecting nearly 1,500 applications to come in across the country requesting BUILD funding this year.
The local enactment of this supplemental $5 vehicle registration fee will make Butler County’s application for the federal grant program significantly more competitive. This point was made clear to Commissioners Osche and Geyer after meeting with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and her staff about the BUILD program.
Adequate investment in our region’s transportation network is one of the most important issues facing our region’s ability to attract investment and jobs. For both urban and rural areas in our region, a robust and well-connected network of roads, bridges, transit, highways, ports, railroads and airports is critical for moving goods to market and people to work.
At a time when there is a growing sense of urgency that our region needs to do more to take charge of our transportation future, Butler County and Commissioners Osche, Geyer and Boozel should be commended for their proactive approach to funding critical transportation improvement projects.