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Opinion: We must support Amtrak, create regional transit to seize 'momentous' Intel chance...

As chairperson of All Aboard Ohio, the only statewide advocacy group for passenger rail and public transit, I want to recognize the great news of Intel Corporation bringing a major computer chip manufacturing facility to central Ohio.

But there’s much more to this than jobs and economic benefits.

That’s why we encourage our General Assembly, governor, chambers of commerce, mayors, transit authorities, planning agencies and the Ohio Department of Transportation not to waste this momentous economic development opportunity.

They must also move Ohio forward on the critically related impacts of transportation that ensue from positive economic developments like these.

Intel’s facility promises over 20,000 good-paying jobs.

This includes more than 7,000 skilled construction trades jobs, over 10,000 high-tech and other related jobs, plus ongoing maintenance jobs. These employment needs will draw from a workforce covering at least four counties.

Do they all have to drive? Are there other options? Yes.

The logistics of moving this huge workforce to the jobsite as well as traffic, parking, and other transportation impacts require forward thinking and planning.

All Aboard Ohio has presented numerous studies over the years confirming that just “widening roads and adding lanes” induces more traffic congestion and road maintenance costs.

As a former two-term, township trustee I know road maintenance is a huge expense for state and local governments.

Add to that the predictable wear and tear of increased traffic, especially from heavy trucks on county and township roads not designed or built for that, and more problems will arise.

That’s why All Aboard Ohio encourages state and local leaders to think and act long-term and sustainably as this project and others progress. They must seize the opportunity to create a truly regional public transit system. Doing so can significantly reduce damage to existing roadways, address traffic safety, congestion concerns for the community residents, and help reduce parking needs.

As published in The Columbus Dispatch on February 2, 2022.

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