U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Visits Ohio to Highlight Public Transportation’s Role in Job Creation

Contact: Angela Gates

KENT, Ohio – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today visited the construction site of the Kent Central Gateway multimodal transit center to highlight the significant economic impact of the Obama Administration’s investments in public transportation in Ohio and cities and towns around the nation. Secretary LaHood was joined by Congressman Tim Ryan, Kent Mayor Jerry Fiala and local officials.

“As President Obama said in his State of the Union Address, we know that CEOs – not to mention students and local residents – want modern transportation infrastructure,” said Secretary LaHood. “Investing in transportation projects like Ohio’s Kent Central Gateway transit center gives them what they want and is a great way to help keep Kent’s economy growing.”

The new multimodal transit center is at the heart of local efforts to dramatically transform the City of Kent’s downtown core into a thriving employment, business and cultural center with the goal of encouraging some of Kent State University’s 20,000 students to remain in town after graduation. The facility is central to a larger effort by the city, university and private developers to invest roughly $125 million to develop over 200,000 square feet of office and retail space, a new hotel and conference center and a new county courthouse—all within walking distance of the Gateway facility.

According to the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority, more than 250 jobs have been created during construction of the project, which is expected to be completed this summer.

“Kent is a winning example of how when transit is done right it can serve as the epicenter of community and economic redevelopment,” said FTA Administrator Rogoff.  “The Kent Gateway transit center will do just that by creating a vibrant downtown area that offers residents and students easy access to jobs, services, housing and educational opportunities on campus.”

The new transit center will provide improved access between downtown Kent and the university, and serve as a key transfer location for regional bus routes, connecting riders to Akron, Cleveland and other locations in Portage County. The facility, which is expected to open this summer, will also include pedestrian and bicycle connections to provide additional options for residents and visitors to get around.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $20 million to the Kent Central Gateway project through DOT’s highly competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

During the past four years, DOT has provided $3.1 billion to 218 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico through the TIGER grant program. Demand for the program has been overwhelming.  In four rounds, DOT received more than 4,050 applications requesting more than $105.2 billion for transportation projects across the country.