CLEVELAND — Editor's Note: The above video is from recent reporting by 3News' sister station WBNS 10TV on passenger rail expansion in Ohio.
During its meeting on Wednesday, Cleveland City Council passed a resolution voicing its support to Gov. Mike DeWine as the state explores passenger rail expansion with Amtrak.
In May, DeWine asked the Ohio Rail Development Commission to work with Amtrak to determine the cost and feasibility for improved and expanded passenger rail service in Ohio.
"While a study may determine they (route expansions) are not feasible, we have kept the process open to allow for federal grants in the event a study determines the routes are feasible and there is support for them," DeWine press secretary Dan Tierney told 3News in an email.
The council in its resolution urged the state to pursue specific areas with Amtrak:
1. The proposed 3C + D Corridor (Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati, and Dayton), which would connect Ohio's major cities together via rail service. There would be three daily round trips from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Proposed stations along the way would be in the following cities:
- Cleveland, OH
- Cleveland Hopkins Airport (NEW)
- Crestline, OH (NEW)
- Delaware, OH (NEW)
- Columbus, OH (NEW)
- Springfield, OH (NEW)
- Dayton, OH (NEW)
- Sharonville, OH (NEW)
- Cincinnati, OH
(The 3C + D corridor line is shown in yellow and green in the image below)
2. Improving service on existing corridors as proposed in Amtrak’s “Connects US” plan:
- The Cleveland-Elyria-Sandusky-Toledo-Chicago corridor
- The Cleveland-Buffalo-Rochester-NYC corridor
- The Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-NYC corridor
- The Cleveland-Washington, D.C. corridor
- The Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit corridor
In addition, the council is calling on DeWine to have Ohio participate in the Federal Rail Association's Corridor Identification and Development (ID) Program, which will create a pipeline of passenger rail projects to guide future federal grant funding. The infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last fall allocates more than $66 billion for Amtrak.
"We are very pleased to see this (resolution) happen," said Stu Nicholson, executive director of All Aboard Ohio, a passenger rail advocacy non-profit. "This is very important to the state of Ohio. The more support we see coming out for rail, the more the state General Assembly will see this is important to cities as well as suburbs."
Nicholson, who spent seven years as a member of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, says a feasibility study will take some time. An environmental assessment of the rail corridors is required, along with a needs-assessment engineering study. Nicholson predicts that the study will be completed sometime in the spring of 2023.
"We're really grateful that Gov. DeWine has ordered the study," Nicholson added. "It's at least a realization that this is worth looking into. Passenger rail is about mobility, jobs, connecting people. It's a new economic tool that can attract new business."
- Group wants Ohioans to voice opinion on Amtrak expansion for the state
- Amtrak eyes Ohio rail expansion following passage of infrastructure bill
- Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson takes part in Amtrak roundtable for more passenger rail service in Ohio
- Ohio rail advocacy group pushing for Cleveland Amtrak station at Tower City
- Amtrak proposing expansion of service in Cleveland as part of 'visionary plan'