CINCINNATI — President Biden’s infrastructure bill has understandably sparked a lot of excitement about the Brent Spence Bridge, but the scope of the $1.2 trillion law will likely have lasting impacts beyond that particular connection between Ohio and Kentucky.
“We have a lot going on in the region that stands to benefit from the bill,” Jill Meyer, president and CEO of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, said Monday.
Meyer was invited to the White House for Monday’s bill signing.
“The possibilities for the Cincinnati Region, in particular, are vast,” she said.
This infrastructure bill addresses a wide variety of issues beyond roads and bridges. It sets aside $65 billion for high-speed internet, $25 billion for airports and $66 billion for passenger rail, among other areas. You can find a breakdown of funding estimates for Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana here.
“The bottom line is that this gives people a travel option that they don’t have,” Stu Nicholson said.
Nicholson is the executive director of All Aboard Ohio, a transportation advocacy group focused on passenger rail expansion.
With Amtrak revealing earlier this year it wants to expand service in Cincinnati with daily routes to Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland and other cities, Nicholson is hopeful this massive investment in passenger rail will make that a reality. But, he warns these projects will still need local and state support.
“We need to make sure that Ohio is on board with this and willing to step up and put some chips on the table, so to speak, to make this happen,” Nicholson said.
“The Brent Spence Bridge is absolutely critical,” Meyer said. “I think there are some other pieces that come along with that. Continuing to invest in transit so we are moving people around our communities as efficiently and easily as we can.”
When it comes to Amtrak, Cincinnati does have limited options right now. The Cardinal line, which runs from New York City to Chicago, passes through Cincinnati three times each week. The City of Oxford has taken steps this year to build an Amtrak platform in hopes the passenger rail expansion could include that corner of Butler County.