Whaley joins Biden at bill signing, lauds funding for Ohio projects

As Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and members of Congress and other officials look on, President Joe Biden signs the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law at the White House on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
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As Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and members of Congress and other officials look on, President Joe Biden signs the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law at the White House on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is running for governor, was at the White House signing ceremony Monday for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Whaley, a Democrat, was present as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which organized mayors nationwide to lobby Congress for passage of the infrastructure bill, according to her gubernatorial campaign.

“With this law, our nation and its cities can revitalize our infrastructure, strengthen our communities, create good-paying jobs, and make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just,” Whaley said Monday in a U.S. Conference of Mayors news release. “Having fought so hard for this historic, bipartisan legislation, mayors were honored to witness President Joe Biden signing it into law. Cities and mayors are on the front lines of many challenges facing the nation and its families – challenges we can better, more fully, and more quickly address, thanks to this once-in-a-generation package.

She said the bipartisan group of more than 350 mayors called for passing the legislation, and urged continued mutual efforts to implement it.

“We thank members of Congress and President Biden, who helped make this momentous day a reality,” Whaley said.

Last week, she said she hopes some funds from the infrastructure bill will help Dayton repave and rebuild arterial streets.

“That’s a huge deal,” Whaley said.

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Dayton has wanted to reconstruct Salem Avenue for more than six years, but had to wait until this year for federal funds to start work, she said.

The city’s residential streets have been improved through voters’ approval of Issue 9, an increase to the earnings tax, Whaley said. Major thoroughfares, however, are a common target of residents’ complaints; those have often waited for years for federal funding.

The new infrastructure funding should also speed up other existing projects and allow addition of some new ones, she said.

According to a White House news release, Biden was to be joined at the signing ceremony by members of Congress who helped write the bill and “a diverse group of leaders who fought for its passage across the country, ranging from Governors and Mayors of both parties to labor union and business leaders.”

An Ohio Democratic Party statement said the state will receive:

• $9.2 billion for highways and $483 million for bridge replacement and repairs.

• $1.2 billion to improve public transit.

• $100 million for broadband internet.

• About $253 million for airport infrastructure development for airports.

Whaley said Dayton will benefit from allocations for broadband internet, and for water and wastewater improvements.

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Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a news release the bill includes more than $33 billion in competitive grant funding for highway and multi-modal projects across the country.

Some of those grant funds could go toward improving the Brent Spence Bridge over the Ohio and adding a companion bridge, a project estimated to cost $3 billion.

The bill provides $25 billion to deal with “forever chemicals” in water and replace lead pipes nationwide, and $1.4 billion for Ohio to help pay for stormwater management and upgrades to water and wastewater treatment systems, Portman’s office said.

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, one of Portman’s key Ohio priorities, will get $1 billion.

Portman was one of 19 Republican senators who voted for the bill. So did Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. In the House, all Ohio Democrats voted for it along with Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R-Rocky River. All other Ohio Republican representatives voted against it, including Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

Reporter Cornelius Frolik contributed to this story.

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