Mayors in nine cities in Ohio and Indiana, along with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), announced Aug. 6 that they will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) within the week calling for cooperation in development of a Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus passenger rail corridor.
The Ohio cities represented are Columbus, Marysville, Kenton and Lima. The Indiana cities include Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary.
- For the MORPC press release and quotes from Ohio leaders, see HERE.
- For news coverage from Ohio with more quotes on the MOA, see HERE.
- For news coverage from Indiana, see HERE.
The MOA calls for the parties “…to systematically and incrementally develop the higher speed rail (“HSR”) intercity system in cooperation with existing freight rail operators and owners of right‐of–way along a corridor from Chicago to Columbus through northern Indiana hereafter known as the Northern Indiana/Ohio High Speed Rail Initiative.”
Specifically, the MOA resolves that the parties will work together to secure funding for the federally required Environmental Impact Study (EIS), the next step in developing the 300-mile passenger rail line. The EIS would examine the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, service planning and environmental impacts along several different routes in order to determine the preferred route for locating the rail lines. Once complete, the EIS would be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration. This study could begin in late 2014 and would take 18 months to complete.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant milestone in the planning and evaluation of the proposed rail corridor from Columbus to Chicago, “said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. “With the leadership of the cities along the proposed route in Ohio and Indiana, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) formalizes already significant collaboration across states to diligently review this new transportation corridor. The MOA is a practical, yet critical next step to pursue the next phase of analyses, the Tier One Environmental Impact Study and the Service Development Plan.”
“Support for passenger rail is strong in Lima and the Greater Lima area,” said Lima Mayor David Berger. “We have a large base of potential passengers among our business people, students and everyday citizens who want and need an alternative option to driving to Chicago or Columbus. Having access to fast, frequent trains also would send a strong message to investors and others who are looking for development opportunities in Lima, as well as assist our existing businesses in recruiting new talent.”
“Passenger rail will have a high impact on our region,” says Ohio Northern University President Daniel DiBiasio. “It would significantly improve access for residents of Lima and Northwest Ohio to Columbus and Chicago. By broadening travel options for students, we can dramatically enhance their ability to benefit from the incredible opportunities these great cities provide, including commuting to internship sites and back home during breaks. Faculty, who now drive to campus from Columbus, would have a faster, safer, more eco-friendly commute. In fact, passenger rail will enhance faculty and student recruitment, making Ada, Ohio much more accessible.”
“This is a big step forward in the effort to bring passenger rail back to our community,” said Ft. Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “The Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus corridor will be good for citizens throughout northern Indiana and central Ohio. It will increase transportation alternatives and help boost economic development and tourism.”
According to a 2013 feasibility study by Transportation Economics Management Systems, the proposed service of 12 trains a day with at least 4 express trains would:
- Directly connect the Greater Columbus market, totaling over 1.8 million people, with the largest center of commerce in the Midwest: Chicago;
- Provide the same fast, frequent connections and benefits to Ohio cities like Marysville, Kenton and Lima;
- Feature Chicago to Columbus travel times ranging from 3 hours and 45 minutes express service to 4 hours local service;
- Attract an estimated 2.1 million riders in 2020 and will increase to over 3.3 million riders by 2040;
- Generate a positive operating cost ratio of an estimated $5 million once the system ramps up in 2020 and rise to $64 million by 2040, operated by a private franchise operator. The business plan indicates that private operation of the system would be possible without annual government subsidies;
- Generate an estimated 12,000 temporary jobs during construction and 26,800 permanent jobs over the 30-year project; and
- Provide an estimated $6 billion of increased output for the region’s businesses.
The study was completed in 2013 by Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS) for the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.
For more information, contact All Aboard Ohio at firstname.lastname@example.org or call toll-free at 844-GO4-RAIL (844-464-7245).