COLUMBUS — Amtrak and its allies continue to marshal local and state support for the proposed 3C+D Corridor in Ohio while waiting for word about financial backing from the federal government. The proposed line would provide passenger rail service linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati with limited stops between the larger markets.
According to information provided by Amtrak, the company would offer three daily round trips between Cleveland and Cincinnati plus stops at stations along the route. Officials estimate the economic impact of the proposed system will be $129.6 million annually.
Amtrak officials said if the 3C+D Corridor becomes a reality, they plan to build seven new passenger stations along the system. They would be located at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, Crestline, Delaware, Columbus, Springfield, Dayton, and Sharonville (in the Cincinnati area). Two new stations would also be built in Oxford and Hamilton along a proposed Cincinnati to Chicago line. Another new station would be located in Ashtabula along a proposed Cleveland to New York City line.
Amtrak officials said they would like to expand passenger rail service nationwide to add 30 new routes and 160 communities to its network. However, Amtrak President Stephen J. Gardner said that in addition to needing funding from the federal government to move the plan forward, Amtrak would still have to successfully negotiate agreements with host railroad companies, like CSX and Norfolk Southern, to use the rail systems.
William Murdock, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), said his agency has secured letters of support for both the 3C+D and Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh corridors from 30 stakeholders, including municipalities located along the proposed routes and economic development agencies from across the region.
“Columbus is the largest city in the United States without fixed rail service for passengers,” Murdock said. “Not being on the national network puts us at a competitive disadvantage with other regions. Ensuring Central Ohio’s place at the heart of new service would mean new jobs and better access, and it would be an economic driver for the region’s communities — urban, suburban and rural — as well as the state of Ohio.”
In addition to the 3C+D Corridor, Murdock said MORPC would like to see the development of a Chicago-Columbus-Pittsburgh corridor for passenger rail service.
In hopes of advancing the project, MORPC, along with partners in Lima, Marysville, Dublin, and Union County, recently completed initial components of a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) study for the corridor as part of the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative.
Like Murdock and other backers of passenger rail corridors in Ohio, Crestline Mayor Linda Horning-Pitt said she believes that the proposed rail line will result in an economic upswing for her community. She noted that several new businesses are already opening in Crestline, including restaurants and a brewery, and expects more growth.
“We believe our economic impact will increase three-fold, if not more, by having Amtrak in Crestline,” Horning-Pitt said. “We are also strategically located halfway between Cleveland and Columbus, so I believe we can play a vital role with our location for Amtrak.”
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the system will open up more more opportunities for residents in her area to find better jobs.
“What’s so important about this proposed line is that it’s about the connectivity of mid-size cities through the Midwest,” Whaley said. “What we find as mid-size cities, as Dayton is, without that connection, it doesn’t allow for opportunities for people in our community to get good paying jobs. This would be very helpful for Dayton as we are an hour west of Columbus and about 50 miles north of Cincinnati. Making sure that folks can move easily between the cities will really expand opportunities for people.”
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said he views Amtrak passenger rail service in Ohio as a necessity for the state to remain competitive and improve its economic status.