Highway traffic and airport security can be frustrating, and judging from online polls, Ohioans want another option.
In 2011, The Ohio Department of Transportation expects to open Ohio’s 3C “Quick Start” Passenger Rail, referring to Ohio’s three central cities: Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. And because of the layout of the rail layout, Dayton will also be included on the list of city connections.
The revival will bring Amtrak back to Ohio, three decades after the company stopped service in Columbus and Dayton.
“It is not our goal to choose one [form of transportation] or the other, just to offer ‘true transportation’ choices, which haven’t been offered for 30 years,” said Scott Varner, deputy director for ODOT.
According to an Amtrak report, “the goal of the proposed service is to provide an affordable, convenient, energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly transportation alternative to highway and airline modes. The proposed 3-C corridor route can be easily accessed by more than 60 percent of the state’s population.”
As the second largest city in the country without a passenger rail system, it’s time Columbus was connected, Varner said.
The passenger rail is expected to serve an estimated 478,000 riders, who will primarily consist of college students and businesspeople, according to a Sept. 22 news release.
Students from Ohio State will be able to board the train at the Greater Columbus Convention Center and travel to cities such as Chicago and New York City.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee said in a letter of support that “Linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati by passenger rail will provide tremendous benefits for our citizens, will directly enhance the proposed national hub in Chicago and will contribute to the realization of the Vision for High Speed Rail in America.”
Ellen Manovich, a fourth-year in history and English, supports the rail system.
“It will be quicker, and I will be able to enjoy the experience of riding a train,” Manovich said, who typically takes the Greyhound Bus home to Dayton.
The impact the rail will have on alternate transportation modes is difficult to determine, Varner said, but it is expected to give a boost to the freight industry.
“What makes the rail unique and quick to build is that ODOT plans to use existing freight rails,” he said. “We’re making all lines safer and more efficient, and the productivity of freight companies is expected to improve $6 billion.”
A financial plan was submitted Oct. 2 and requested that $564 million of President Barack Obama’s stimulus fund go toward building the rail.
“This [fund] will be the dollars we need to build new tracks, new stations, and trains,” Varner said.
ODOT is waiting to hear if the requested funds will be approved.
Further information and train schedules can be found at dot.state.oh.us.