Beginning this year, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is investing a record US$158m annually into projects specifically aimed at making the state’s roads safer for all users.
Despite being the country’s 34th largest by area and seventh most populous, Ohio already boasted one of the largest safety programs in the USA. The new two-year state transportation budget included an additional US$100m in safety funding. Now, only California and Texas invest more than Ohio on safety projects. The new road safety funding will cover a range of projects that include everything from bridge and pavement maintenance, driver behavioral programs, and additional highway signage to the complete reconfiguration of intersections.
Ohio has 121,000 miles (194,730km) of road, one of the largest roadway networks in the country, and 84% of these roads are considered local roads that are maintained by more than 900 cities and villages, 1,300 townships and 88 counties. The remaining 16% are considered state roads, which are maintained by the Ohio DOT. The agency’s Highway Safety program helps fund projects that improve safety for drivers, riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians, not only on ODOT-maintained roadways, but roads maintained by local governments as well.
“The funding for safety projects in Ohio’s new transportation budget, which goes into effect on July 1, puts Ohio’s road safety program within the top three states in the nation,” said Ohio’s Governor, Mike DeWine. “Investing in the safety of the drivers and passengers who travel on Ohio’s roads and highways is incredibly important, and I have no doubt that this increased focus on safety will prevent crashes and save lives.”
ODOT’s director, Dr Jack Marchbanks, commented, “Safety is at the forefront of our minds in everything we do. Too many people are seriously injured or killed on Ohio roads every year. We need to continue doing all we can to get those numbers to zero. Safety funding not only pays for engineering solutions, it helps fund programs to change driver behavior. Too many traffic deaths are a result of speeding, distraction, impairment, and lack of using a seat belt. These are all choices, bad choices, made by drivers and these crashes are completely preventable.”