Whether you’re sitting in your car, bumper-to-bumper on the highway, or sitting at your desk breezing through the information highway that is the Internet, infrastructure is impacting your daily life. Roads and bridges, buildings and dams, broadband access — all across the 15th District, people are seeing the results of strategic investments in infrastructure, and that is why it remains a top priority for the 115th Congress.
In one way or another, every community in the 15th District relies on infrastructural improvements to grow and advance their business community, but it means something different in each county. In Southeast Ohio, for instance, broadband internet access is unreliable at best, and in the 21st century, it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity in order to attract businesses and jobs.
That is why I held a roundtable in Hocking County, and am forming working groups in all affected counties to create private-public partnerships among the stakeholders invested in the digital divide. We are working to bring together local, state, and federal elected officials, as well as internet providers and private, nonprofit organizations like ConnectOhio, who all agree that internet access means more than just surfing the web. One Ohio University study found that broadband access correlates with lower poverty rates, infant mortality, and even cancer incidence. When infrastructure includes broadband access, it can improve lives far beyond cutting down on traffic jams. That is why I am hopeful that any funding legislation introduced in Congress to address our nation’s roads, bridges, and dams will also include money to bring rural communities up to speed.
Other communities are benefiting from more traditional improvements. Recently, I had the honor to be a part of the opening and ribbon cutting ceremony for the Carroll 33 Interchange in Fairfield County. The $44.5 million project eliminates the Winchester Road/U.S. 33 intersection with ramps and connectors, and is already reducing accidents and saving commuters from wasting hours in traffic. Successes like this reaffirm the value of these investments; it is not only making travel safer and easier, but it is creating jobs and spurring the economy.
That is also why I am extremely grateful for the hard work of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and all state and local officials that have been working diligently to complete the dam at Buckeye Lake. For the entrepreneurs and small business owners, the failed dam has resulted in lost profits over the past few summers, and the local economy has taken a hit. I am excited to see that the infrastructure plans for a fully operational lake are ahead of schedule; the annual Fourth of July Parade will return this year, a sure-fire sign of improvements and an indication of successes and enjoyment to come.
The advantages created by sound infrastructure are undeniable, which is why I am currently working on legislation to open up untapped oil resources and use the funds exclusively to provide a new, dedicated source of revenue for these essential projects. As we continue through the 115th Congress, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring tangible change and improvements to our communities.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. He can be contacted at his Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2015, Hilliard office at 614-771-4968, Lancaster office at 740-654-2654, or Wilmington office at 937-283-7049. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and through my e-newsletter at www.stivers.house.gov.