Ohio Can Be Center of High Speed Rail Manufacturing
Ohio-based EWI Pitches Plan to ORDC Commissioners
(Columbus) – As Ohio awaits word from Washington on its $564-million 3C “Quick Start” passenger rail application, an Ohio-based industrial research organization is saying Ohio shouldn’t just be riding passenger trains, but manufacturing them.
Columbus-based EWI (Edison Welding Institute) today proposed to ORDC Commissioners that a national center for high-speed passenger rail manufacturing be created here in Ohio. EWI Business Development Director Dr. Dennis Harwig (PhD) presented their plan, which envisions not only a manufacturing center, but creation of an industrial supply chain of smaller manufacturers to feed what will be a growing passenger rail car industry.
It’s an opportunity that excites those who guide Ohio’s economic development efforts.
"The opportunity to attract new passenger rail car manufacturers to Ohio and expand the state's existing supply chain of rail car suppliers is yet another example of how Ohio can benefit from the historic federal investment in passenger rail. The development of multimodal transportation goes beyond the transformative nature the service itself can have on our cities and towns." said Lisa Patt-McDaniel, director of the Ohio Department of Development. "Ohio's existing manufacturing assets combined with its central location make it the perfect location for the business development that will be needed to support these federal investments.”
Indeed, the proposal comes literally on the heels of statements made just this week by USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood in Washington. ODOT Director and ORDC Commissioner Jolene Molitoris was on hand to hear those remarks. As Lahood was quoted by the Detroit Free Press: "More than 30 rail industry manufacturers and suppliers have promised to establish or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they're chosen by the states to build America's new high-speed rail lines."
Molitoris went on to quote Lahood as saying: "I'll assure sure those investments in manufacturing help our most distressed communities in Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere."
EWI’s Harwig says their plan is ideally suited for Ohio because of its industrial capacity for metal fabricating and components, skilled work force, long list of rail and auto industry-related manufacturers and strategic location as a logistics center. All of this, says Harwig, can attract passenger rail car manufacturers and enable the same kind of growing supply chain as Ohio has seen with companies like Honda.
EWI is the leading engineering and technology organization in North America dedicated to the research and development of materials joining and welding. They provide expert materials joining assistance, contract research, consulting services and training to hundreds of members in the aerospace, automotive, government, energy and chemical, heavy manufacturing, medical and electronics industries. More on EWI can be found at:
ORDC Executive Director Matt Dietrich says staff will work with EWI to determine the next steps to advance a high speed rail manufacturing center.
In other ORDC action:
A polymer manufacturer in Troy, mothballed since 2006, gets new life and at least a dozen new jobs are created, as ORDC Commissioners today approved a grant & loan package to restore a rail connection to the factory.
Deltech Polymers Corporation says their Troy facility will be able to utilize 42 to 86 new carloads of raw materials to produce plastic pellets to meet what they characterize as a growing demand for plastics from businesses in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana. The plastics are used in a variety of applications including home insulation materials and food service trays. If the business grows, Deltech indicates more jobs could be created.
But reopening the plant hinges on reconnecting a rail spur to the CSX Railroad’s main line between Cincinnati & Toledo. A loan of $337,457 will fund restoration of a switch connection by CSX and a grant of $24,000 will enable repairs to the Deltech-owned spur track.
In a second action, ORDC Commissioners approved a $155,000 grant to the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad for critical repairs to their Maumee River “Swing” Bridge at Toledo. The bridge, built in 1911, is an essential shipper connection for the railroad to both the Canadian National and Ann Arbor Railroads. It provides both a direct rail connection and creates significant cost savings for shippers
Railroad President William Callison says a breakdown of the bridge’s swing mechanism could hamper not only rail traffic, but important maritime shipping traffic from overseas and the Great Lakes into The Port of Toledo. Toledo’s is the busiest port on Lake Erie and one of the busiest annually on the Great Lakes.
The Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad is matching the ORDC grant with $155,000 of its own funds to make the repairs, which include an emergency generator to replace one that is no longer operating.
Details of both projects are available on request from Stu Nicholson at 614-644-0513 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(The Ohio Rail Development Commission is an independent agency operating within the Ohio Department of Transportation. ORDC is responsible for economic development through the improvement and expansion of passenger and freight rail services and railroad grade crossing safety. For more information about what ORDC does for Ohio, visit our website at: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Rail )