Transportation Sec. LaHood Optimistic About Ohio Passenger Train Service

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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Columbus
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in Columbus

President Obama’s transportation secretary was in Columbus Tuesday where he toured a bus facility recently renovated with the help of federal stimulus dollars. But during a press conference afterward, the talk quickly turned to what backers say is a need for passenger rail service.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took a tour of the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s newly renovated bus maintenance facility. He used the opportunity to praise the president’s stimulus program and to laud Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, Governor Ted Strickland and 15th District Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy – all Democrats – for their leadership.

Governor Strickland, in his remarks, reminded the secretary about a mode of transportation that he says the state needs more of.

“The city of Columbus is the largest city in America where passenger rail service is not available,” the governor said. “And the fact that the 3C corridor beginning in Cleveland and down to Cincinnati represents the most densely populated part of our nation where passenger rail service does not exist.”

In response Transportation Secretary LaHood sounded optimistic about Ohio’s chances for securing federal stimulus dollars for passenger train service.

“If you build it they will come, we’re convinced of that,” LaHood said. “We have examples of that all over America. And so the idea that it’s not going to work is nonsense. And if you look around America you see that it does work, it will work it can work and it’s coming, passenger rail and light rail are coming to Ohio. Get on the trains.”

But it’s not quite that easy. The state must first secure about $400 million in stimulus money from the federal government. The application will be submitted October 2nd.

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