MAHONING VALLEY Ryan, Strickland seek $82M in U.S. funds for transportation projects

The congressmen are seeking funding for 11 projects.
WASHINGTON -- Two Mahoning Valley congressmen are seeking more than $82 million in federal funding for local transportation projects.
U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, and Ted Strickland of Lisbon, D-6th, are asking the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to approve funding for 11 projects.
The funding would come from the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, TEA-21, reauthorization bill that includes $260 billion for transportation projects over the next five years.
Ryan testified Wednesday before the committee; Strickland was to do so today. The funding likely won't be awarded before August.
The biggest project on Ryan's list is a $47 million allocation for a connector road between Interstate 680 on the East Side of Youngstown and I-80, just east of Hubbard.
Ryan is also seeking $6.5 million to improve the state Routes 82/46 intersection in Howland Township, including the elimination of left-turn lanes to alleviate congestion near Eastwood Mall in Niles.
Other requests
Ryan wants $2.5 million for the Riverwalk in Warren and $4 million to upgrade the I-680 interchange near the former site of an LTV steel mill. He is also seeking $1 million for the proposed Trumbull County transit system, $700,000 toward the widening of the I-80/Route 46 interchange in Austintown and improvements along 46 in Austintown and Weathersfield.
Ryan also is hunting for federal funding for several water and energy projects in the Mahoning Valley, including $12.5 million to repair the Lower Girard Lake dam.
"I think it is very difficult under the parameters we have to fund an entire request like that," Debbie Gephardt, a transportation committee aide, said of Ryan's $47 million request.
Aides also stress that funding requests are only starting points for negotiations, and don't guarantee any funding will be earmarked.
Strickland wants $5 million for the Columbiana County Port Authority's Intermodal Industrial Park in Wellsville to be used for the construction of a cargo handling system.
The project has the support of Ryan as well as U.S. Reps. Steven C. LaTourette and Bob Ney, two Ohio Republicans who sit on the transportation committee. The three signed a letter written by Strickland to the committee's chairman and ranking Democratic member in support of the project.
Road widening
Strickland's other requests are $7 million to widen a section of state Route 170 in Calcutta and St. Clair, $4.96 million to widen a portion of Western Reserve Road, $850,000 to improve state Route 14 in Washingtonville, and $3 million to buy 6.25 miles of abandoned railroad property in Green Township and build a pedestrian and bicycle trail.
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, has requested millions of dollars for Mahoning Valley health-care projects.
DeWine, who sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee, is asking for $5.6 million for nursing and hospice programs run by Youngstown-based Humility of Mary Health Partners and $3 million for an advanced technology incubator, a business development and recruitment initiative that would provide cheap office space to technology companies in Youngstown.
Ohio already has agreed to direct $2 million to the technology incubator, which would complement the existing Youngstown Business Incubator.
DeWine is seeking $100,000 for Ursuline Sisters HIV/AIDS Ministry to hire a social worker and part-time physician.
Ryan and Strickland joined Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Madison, in requesting more than $25 million for several military construction projects at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.
Most of that funding would pay for two proposed projects -- a 131-room lodging facility for military reservists and a two-building mission support complex.
XCONTRIBUTOR: David Enrich, States News Service.