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From the Desk of the Board Chair, Theresa Allen

Feelings Of Deja-vu

In an ongoing effort to support our Executive Director and Public Affairs Director who have small contracts with All Aboard Ohio, since I have been Chairperson, I have tried to do some of those “extra” things so that their paid time can be best utilized and focused on Ohio passenger rail and mass transit issues. No one can be everywhere or do everything.

Therefore, since I am retired from my “nursing jobs” I have more flexibility and can attend some of the extra zooms and webinars and report back to them and the AAO Board of Directors. This also assures someone from AAO is representing our non-profit and has a place at the table. Some of those meetings are with the VHSRA (Virginia High-Speed Rail Association), NIPRA (Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association), the RPA (Rail Passenger Association), NOPRA (Northern Ohio Passenger Rail Association), and NIB (National Infrastructure Bank).

But, the common thread from the 3-C corridor days, to high-speed rail development around Chicago, Virginia, and the entire country echoes what I heard in a recent webinar with guest speakers who were part of Germany’s high-speed rail development over the last 25-30 years. Deja- vu!

There are always political or business pundits who are naysayers, there are projected costs, construction project inflation setbacks, territorial issues, public vs private funding, easements or right of ways, zoning, public health and or safety concerns, and environmental considerations and impacts.

My point being, as we pursue passenger rail development in Ohio we should remember and voice that these issues are a very common part of most all infrastructure development and should be looked at with foresight in planning and not hindsight. Working together with public and private partners many of these concerns can be dealt with in a logical, structured, and fair way that uses consensus to deal with many of these economic development issues.

I ask you to remind our local and state elected officials to consider how other states and countries have advanced their infrastructure to promote improved and modern passenger rail and mass transit and model Ohio’s plan to do the same, whether it’s the Amtrak Connect Plan or any future plans, we need to meet the needs of all Ohioans, existing businesses and future economic development.

Let’s learn from this deja-vu moment.

Theresa Allen,

AAO Chairperson

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