WASHINGTON – Youngstown State University President and former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel joined a group of Youngstown officials Wednesday to lobby Congress and the federal government for $10.2 million to help complete a more modern transportation system in that city's downtown.

The group, which also included Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and Donald Kline, president and chief executive officer of Mercy Health, met with Reps. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, and Bill Johnson, R-Marietta; Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The federal dollars would add to the more than $600 million in private and public dollars spent during the past decade to reconstruct major streets, build a hotel, and build student housing and affordable housing for downtown Youngstown, where about 15,000 people work and nearly 1,500 people live.

The new money would help complete reconstruction of Fifth Avenue, which links Youngstown State University and Mercy Health’s St. Elizabeth’s downtown campus to the central business district. Mercy Health employs 4,600 people.

"The infrastructure in Youngstown, Ohio, when it was created, was created for a different Youngstown — wider streets, more traffic, moving millions and millions tons of steel," Tressel told reporters on Capitol Hill.

"We’re now a high-tech area," Tressel said. "We’re into the medical field," adding the project will have "noticeable impact. You will see the difference made."

Brown said the federal grant would "be one of those pieces that’s going to help Youngstown turn a page from our past where we were known as the old steel town."

Ohio lawmakers are pushing the Trump administration for the money. In a letter last October to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Portman wrote the federal dollars would "increase safety and improve pedestrian movement between educational institutions and jobs."

The Youngstown group also met with senior aides to Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.