When the United States entered the fight in World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is famous for saying, “It may not be the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning.”
The battle (if you will) for expanding passenger rail in Ohio made a big step forward when Governor Mike DeWine stepped up and ordered the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) to apply for funding from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for a planning study of two rail corridors:
Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (better known as the 3C&D)
Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit (which parallels two of the busiest Interstate Highway corridors in the USA)
At this writing, the applications have been submitted to the FRA. So, we can all breathe easy and wait, right?
In fact, my emails, texts and conversations with advocates are peppered with questions about “what do we do, now?”
We keep up the fight. We are at Churchill’s “end of the beginning”. Now we begin pushing toward what for us will be a victory: the development of a statewide network of fast, frequent, timely and reliable intercity passenger trains.
A network? From two rail corridors? Hardly. But consider that Ohio’s metropolitan planning organizations (MPO’s, for short) are also applying for FRA planning grants for a total of 4 more corridors.
The Columbus-based Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is supporting applications for both the 3C&D corridor and a second new corridor that would connect Columbus with Chicago and Pittsburgh. It’s called the “Midwest Connect”.
The Northern Ohio Area Coordinating Agency (NOACA), based in Cleveland is applying for FRA planning grants for expanding service in these three corridors:
Professional transportation planners and civic leaders are thinking ahead to what is possible for our future in Ohio and the Midwest / Great Lakes region.
Our job, as advocates, is to let them know we have their backs. Let the leaders at NOACA and MORPC that you support what they’re doing in a letter or email. And while you’re at it, let your Mayors, city councils and state legislator’s know as well. Educate them. Tell them your story about why you want the option of traveling by train to connect with whatever your need may be.
And if you’ve got a good story to tell, consider writing it down and submitting to us at All Aboard Ohio for our e-newsletter. Even if your rail trip was less than ideal, we want to hear about the good and the bad so we can advocate with Amtrak for better service.
And finally, thank you. We cannot do the work we do without your engagement. We are lucky to have active and growing All Aboard Ohio chapters at the local level in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Cincinnati. What can we do to get you and others more involved? Let us know and let’s get something done.