Life has uniquely prepared St. Xavier grad and former City Hall staffer Pete Metz for his new role as Transportation Policy and Coalition Manager at the Chamber of Commerce—he previously worked in transportation policy and advocacy in Washington, D.C., pushing for the consensus needed to pull off transportation projects. A few weeks into his new gig, Metz talked common sense and building bridges.
These are exciting times for transportation in Cincinnati, a place where it can also cause frustration. What excites and frustrates you? When I moved back from D.C. in 2013, I was really excited to see the rebirth. But it’s important to remember that 22.5 percent of our jobs are still connected by a 90-minute transit commute and 75,000 health care and manufacturing jobs aren’t connected to transit at all. I see a real opportunity to do better. What excites me is new services like Metro*Plus and Red Bike showing that there are real, viable alternatives to driving.
How did your experience in D.C. inform your work today? There was a lot of conversation about local control of transportation dollars because your congressman doesn’t see the potholes, traffic choke points, or how long you’re waiting for the bus. Local officials are the ones who understand our priorities. It’s important for local government to have a unified vision for transportation.
What’s it going to take to get a Brent Spence Bridge replacement? The Governor of Kentucky has said we have to have a bridge, so in the next few years we have a chance to leverage Federal FAST [Fixing America’s Surface Transportation] dollars. The bridge corridor is so important because it’s I-75, 71, and 74 all coming into one of the most congested corridors in the country, which carries $400 billion annually. So the two states need to sit down and work on a shared plan to take to the feds.
What’s the most important transportation issue in our city right now? We’ve got to make sure we have a truly regional transportation system. Transportation is about jobs, services, health, even access to food. When you have local leaders who prioritize it, you’re going to be much more likely to find success.