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Ohio’s Gov. Strickland lobbies for state’s HSR (read: passenger rail) plan

From the Columbus Dispatch comes more news that Ohio is trying to get its passenger rail plan connecting the “3C” cities of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati to each other and the national network. Cleveland and Cincinnati are already served by Amtrak, but a connecting route would be an obvious good investment for the state and provide another thru route for the national network.

“If we don’t do this we will be left behind,” Strickland told Ohio reporters at the state’s Washington office before his meetings with the federal officials. “Ohio will be an island in the middle of this nation without passenger rail service — we will not be appropriately connected to a system that will be broad-based, and it would be intolerable for us.”

Amtrak is studying how many passengers the rail service would likely attract and how much the state would need to subsidize it. The study is due in August.

The $400 million figure is up from the previous estimate of $250 million for Ohio’s corridor, but Strickland said that depending on the Amtrak study’s findings, the cost could wind up well below $400 million. A spokeswoman for the governor said the state hasn’t yet submitted a formal proposal for money.

The article says that they’re looking to get funding through the $8 billion in HSR stimulus money. It seems questionable whether the plan, “which would run slightly slower than a car moving at freeway speed,” might qualify as HSR, but it’s probably a leap they have to make in their quest for federal money. Basically everything is being touted as “high-speed” these days, so it’s not surprising. But hey, if that semantic strategy gets the public thinking about train travel and hence puts more rails on the ground, I don’t have a problem with it.


Filed under: Amtrak, United States High Speed Rail

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June 2009