Central Ohio’s on-again, off-again, light rail system may be on again. Ohio’s largest cities are turning to President-elect Barack Obama’s stimulus bill to revive some long-sought infrastructure projects. Columbus plans to ask for 200 million dollars to build a 13-mile light-rail train system.
Passenger rail is a big part of Ohio’s history and some are hoping it will also play a role in Ohio’s future. The Ohio Hub project would link Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland to much of the nation by rail. Governor Strickland supports the plan, but as WOSU’s Lauren Schmoll reports… It will still face many challenges.
The high price of gasoline is bad news for drivers but good news for public transportation.
A half-million people are expected to move to Central Ohio during the next two decades. The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission says preparing for the influx needs to begin now.
As contract talks between Columbus bus drivers and COTA drag on, the future of a light rail project is more uncertain. Supporters of the proposed half-billion dollar northern corridor project believe it could help ease the city’s transportation problems. Critics say buses are far more efficient and flexible. Add to the mix COTA’s ongoing financial problems and a lack of public support – in the form of tax money – and it seems the light rail project has been derailed.
As part of the plan to bring light rail service to Columbus, the Central Ohio Transit Authority wants to divert much of the freight train traffic that flows through the city. To do that, COTA proposes moving a rail yard now just west of Columbus, north to Marysville.