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DeWine administration still weighing Amtrak's proposed 3C and D rail expansion in Ohio

Amtrak Acela
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-29 18:50:36-04

EUCLID, Ohio — Amtrak's plan to restore passenger rail service for 3C and D that lays between Cleveland and Cincinnati with stops in Columbus and Dayton has yet to be decided. Earlier this year Governor DeWine asked the Ohio Rail Development Commission to work with Amtrak on actual costs and routes before committing to the expansion, a process he said Thursday that is continuing.

"We're very open to looking at that and when we get more information when the Department of Transportation has more specifics about it than we can make decisions," DeWine told News 5.

A planned stop on the 3C and D route would include Cleveland Hopkins Airport but on Wednesday News 5 asked Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted for his take on the likelihood of it happening.

"I think that that's a long shot," said Husted.

News 5 asked Governor DeWine a follow-up question if he shares that view.

"Well, I wouldn't put, you know I wouldn't describe it that way," DeWine said. "I would just describe it as it's just got to make sense, it's just got to work."

And by work, he said it's got to make economic sense while offering a service that is quicker, not longer than driving. These are the two reasons the 2010 offer was rejected. That's when the Obama administration offered the state $400 million to build a high-speed rail line.

Former Governor Ted Strickland said "yes" to start 2010. But when he lost to former Governor John Kasich, the narrative changed to "no", citing the costs down the road to the state and the fact that the high-speed rail line would move at an average speed of 39 miles per hour.

"You know it has to be driven by time," DeWine said. "Is it going to work and can we make it work economically in the state?"

"Oh I totally agree," said Stu Nicholson, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio, a group pushing for the rail expansion.

"We want it to be faster, we want to have a system that at least starts out at better than highway speeds and then at least gradually is developed to work up to 110 mph which would be fantastic," he said. "This is a well worth investment.

As for the Lt. Governor's take? DeWine didn't discount his opinion.

"I don't fault Mr. Husted for saying it's a long shot, I mean there's a lot of work that needs to be done before we can actually get a train rolling," DeWine said. "One of the big handicaps we've had is generational."

That is to say that 50 years have passed since we've had the service, so most Ohioans can't relate to what it would offer which Nicholson says is more than a leisurely ride on a train.

"This isn't just about people who want to ride trains or moving people by trains, this is every bit as much of an economic development issue, it is a workforce development and mobility issue," Nicholson said. "We really have to start rethinking mobility in Ohio and this is a good start."