Ohio's Soon-to-Be Railroad

Last week Ohio won a small 'victory' as the Federal Government announced $400 million to develop the 3-C corridor. A few people have asked for my take. I don't have a particularly strong opinion on this issue, but now that the project is closer to reality, I'll throw out a few thoughts.

(from Flickr user StevenM_61)

I still think the downtown Cleveland Amtrak station, without improvements, is a big problem. There's no nice way of saying this: it's in a terrible location. RTA's Waterfront Line is on the chopping block, and it's hard to imagine RTA adding any service in the near future.

People will use service on the 3-C corridor. I'm convinced of this after reading James McCommons's Waiting on a Train. It may only be a tiny proportion of the total commuting population, but I don't anticipate empty trains like some critics are predicting.

Whether or not the corridor will drive economic development or reduce traffic on I71 to the extent that it's been hyped is the biggest unknown, in my opinion. Corridor service has worked very well in other parts of the country, particularly on the coasts; but the dynamics in Ohio are not quite the same.