(WKBN) – Ohio Senator Rob Portman had a first-hand look at some of the ambitious projects that could bring money from the nation’s trillion-dollar Infrastructure Investment Act to the Valley.

Portman joined leaders with the Eastgate Council of Governments Friday for a roundtable discussion on some of the big projects that Eastgate is working on to develop and obtain much-needed federal funding.

One target area includes the ten miles surrounding the new Ultium Cells battery plant and Lordstown Motors, making it easier for suppliers and developers looking to locate nearby.

“Nineteen percent of the freight traffic in the country goes over I-80 in our region,” said Executive Director Jim Kinnick. “The ability to bring smart freight corridors out there, the ability to attract additional distribution warehouses – that creates jobs; that creates interest.”

One of Eastgate’s big projects has been talked about since the 1990s when officials such as former Youngstown Mayor Pat Ungaro referred to what was being called the “The Hubbard Connector,” linking the end of the Himrod Avenue Expressway to the East Side with I-80 to the north.

Organizers say their idea would include a new interchange near I-80 and State Route 304, with access roads to the East Side.

“Open up those corridors for development, create access to an underserved area in an area of the city that’s really cut off from the interstate,” Kinnick said.

Portman calls the spending plan a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“Also the possibility of using of the great access we have to rail and to highways to expand the number of warehouses and logistics companies,” Portman said. “There’s more funding for roads and bridges but also for broadband, also for some of the opportunities that people want to engage in here for training to be sure that we have the skills here to be able to take advantage of what’s going on.”

The focus now will be to keep pressing lawmakers to get the funding they need.