US DOT to review High-Speed Passenger Rail Extension from Cleveland to Pittsburgh
COLUMBUS (Friday, October 23, 2009) - In response to requests by officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will review the feasibility of extending the nation’s designated high-speed passenger rail corridors to include the connection between Cleveland to Pittsburgh.
In letters to Governor Ted Strickland and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pledged to have top officials at the FRA review current data and analysis of the 140-mile corridor over the next 45 days.
Last month, both governors - along with members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) - asked the FRA to consider extending the current Keystone High-Speed Rail Corridor through Pennsylvania to include the Cleveland-Pittsburgh connection.
“I am gratified by the importance that (Governor Strickland) and Governor Rendell ascribe to high-speed rail and to the proposed extension,” wrote Secretary LaHood. “I look forward to working with you to realize the Obama Administration’s far-reaching vision of building a national passenger rail network.”
A study done by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) showed the Cleveland-Pittsburgh corridor met federal criteria for high-speed designation, and could serve as a vital link to Ohio’s proposed 3C “Quick Start” Passenger Rail Plan.
The study forecasted strong ridership between Pittsburgh and Cleveland with as many as 860,000 annual trips in a high-speed system, where trains reach speeds as high as 110 mph.
“A high speed corridor connection from Toledo to Cleveland and on to Pittsburgh and the East Coast would connect the Midwest’s great regional economies, making them stronger and bringing new jobs to a part of the country hard hit by the global recession,” said Governor Strickland. “I appreciate Secretary LaHood taking Ohio's economic needs seriously and look forward to his response later this year.”
ODOT and ORDC are awaiting word from Washington on the state’s recent application for federal stimulus funding for the Ohio 3C “Quick Start” Passenger Rail Plan, seeking a share of $8 billion in federal passenger rail funds made available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ohio’s application details the state’s plans for investing, constructing, and operating a passenger rail service corridor connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati with medium speed 79 mph passenger trains. The state believes that its application is a strong contender for stimulus funds.
Ohio also joined the State of Indiana in applying for $2.8 million in Recovery Act funds to finance planning for advancing the Chicago-Toledo-Cleveland corridor to high speed.
For more information, contact Scott Varner, ODOT Communications, at (614) 644-8640
or Stu Nicholson, Ohio Rail Development Commission, at (614) 644-0513
Information on Ohio’s 3C “Quick Start” Plan and ORDC’s Cleveland-Pittsburgh Corridor study can be found online at http://3CisME.ohio.gov