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Restarting Passenger Rail In Ohio's 3C Corridor

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Seems there is a lot of denial here that 3-C is dead.  I'm wondering why this thread isn't being moved to the failed or never-started projects subforum.

 

 

Jeff, I have been at this for 27 years and have seen 3C "die" seven times and each time we get a little closer to our goal. Never were we so close to construction until this last time. A transportation project dies only after its planning documentation shelf life has expired. And that shelf life is about five years. So technically, 3C has never died in my term of involvement.

 

Stay tuned. It is probably going to come back sooner than you may think.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The DDN op-ed was pitching private-sector (or a public-private joint venture concept) for 3-C

 

Ironically, that is what 3-C was. By some estimates, as much as $3 billion in private development would have followed the $400 million invested by the Feds. Forest City, alone, had planned hundreds of millions of dollars in development. Economists (and some smart investors like Ray Kroc), have recognized, for decade, that private developent follows transportation.

 

But what do we expect most citizens to know when American school children don't even rank in the top 10 most educated in the world?

 

Don't expect the private sector to make any significant commitments when the American voters can't. It takes years and expensive studies, permits, etc., to get a project to groundbreaking.

 

It takes far less time to replace a politician and with him or her, a consistent vision for the future.

 

HL Mencken was talking about the US Presidency but he could have just as easily been referring to Ohio politics:

 

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre - the man who can most easily disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

 

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great a glorious day the plan folks of the the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

 

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+1 for the Mencken quote.

 

Reminded me of this other one by him:

 

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." -HL Mencken

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No link but I heard a recent poll about Ohio and its future showed the majority of the state supported killing 3C. Take it for what it is worth.

 

I got you covered.

 

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1322.xml?ReleaseID=1550

 

http://cincinnati.com/blogs/politics/2011/01/19/ohioans-back-kasich-killing-passenger-rail-fear-higher-taxes/

 

"By 48 percent to 42 percent, Ohioans support Kasich’s decision to kill passenger rail between Cincinnati and Ohio’s other major cities, returning $400 million to the federal government;"

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Especially when the opposition was successful in lying about "39 mph" and that 3C's operating cost would come from the general fund and had anything to do with the state's $8 billion deficit.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Absolutely. But in some respects, there was even a problem with going after stimulus funding for a project that was a long way from being "shovel ready." So the entire project had to be pulled out of the more comprehensive Ohio Hub System plan and rushed through the planning process, which also meant there wasn't enough time to properly seek a consensus among the business community on how to proceed. And by advancing only 3C (rather than the entire Ohio Hub), it gave the false impression that a 79 mph 3C rail service would be the end-all, be-all result. But the fact that 3C lacked board support from the chambers of commerce in each of the 3Cs was a major reason why it failed. Had that process been more deliberate, less rushed and advanced moreso as part of the overall Ohio Hub System (the planning for which began under Republican leadership!), a consensus-based project could have emerged. That's all hindsight now, and given the circumstances at the time, I probably couldn't have resisted trying to get something built in 3C with stimulus funds.

 

If anything, I believe the lesson learned from 3C is to go back to the original plan -- the Ohio Hub System -- which was a public-private partnership (PPP) to develop freight and passenger rail infrastructure in the region. And, in ODOT, only the Ohio Rail Development Commission has the extent of PPP legal powers. So I'm hopeful the Ohio Hub planning and the ORDC survives Kasich.

 

EDIT: BTW, I'll write about this in greater detail in the next All Aboard Ohio newsletter (to receive it, join All Aboard Ohio at allaboardohio.org!), but the 3C project as proposed had little chance of happening even if Strickland had won re-election. The USDOT will probably redirect more federal funding from other states' passenger rail projects around the nation and give it to other ready-to-go projects to save Obama's high-speed rail legacy from budget austerity measures. Plus, the State Controlling Board was unlikely to approve 3C funding, even with a Democratic majority in the Ohio House. Now that it's all GOP, 3C would never have seen the light of day.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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great tagline KJP and thanks for explaining what you think what would have/will happen re: rail in America in the near term

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Crestline opts to disband its 3C rail committee

BY HENRY S. CONTE • News Journal • January 25, 2011

 

CRESTLINE -- There will be other opportunities for Crestline to grow, but city council President David Crokie believes a golden opportunity just passed.

 

Monday night, Crokie officially disbanded the "3C Rail" committee. The committee conceived a plan to make Crestline a stop in a proposed railway from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati.

 

"In light of what the new governor (John Kasich) thought of the project, and he had no interest, we had no choice but to scrap it," Crokie said. "We had been in contact with Conrail and (the Ohio Department of Transportation) and had attended several meetings and we had come up with extensive plans.

 

Read More...

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed.  It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else.  Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue.  Sorry Crestline. 

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed. It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else. Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue. Sorry Crestline.

 

Kindly inform me: How can speed be the weakness for a project that offered the nation's third-fastest average speed for a new-start rail project? Isn't it funny how the other slower projects nationwide somehow managed to either attract ridership in excess of what 3C promised, and/or are getting their rail traffic choke points (for both freight and passenger) addressed with federal funds to offer increasingly higher average speeds? Boy, we sure are smart here in Ohio to refuse that bad 3C train because it would travel faster than all but two of 12 intercity rail services started since 1980.

 

That, my friend, was the last chance of seeing a new intercity passenger rail service in Ohio for many, many years. If we are lucky, and if the Congressional Tea Partiers aren't successful in eliminating passenger rail services nationwide, we may get a minimal expansion of train service here in Ohio. All Aboard Ohio is going to try for such an expansion later this year by advocating a restructuring of existing services, but it will involve only a single daily train between Cleveland and New York state destinations. And that will be extremely hard to get.

 

I don't think you and others realize how hard it is to get expanded passenger rail service, especially in a state that is not willing to pay for it. I've been at this since 1983 and I've seen only one new train service in Ohio during that time. You just lost your best chance at it for at least the next five years.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership.  But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built.  Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market.  Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010.  It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Everyone has to deal with those rigid federal planning requirements. That's not the problem. The problem is Ohio has low self-esteem and is unwilling to accept risk as a condition for growth. And as I've said a million times, you cannot grow without risk.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Cutting stops would barely decrease the average speed. The average speed was mostly brought down by bad sections of track (and single-tracking bottlenecks), mainly in the Cincinnati area. Adding stops is actually a plus as far as many voters are concerned (at least to a point of diminishing returns, which I don't believe the plan had hit). Each stop adds about 2-3 minutes total to the trip, yet it opens up access to the train for many people that wouldn't have been likely to ride it previously (if they had to drive many miles to the nearest stop).

 

Besides, I believe this train could have traveled 500 MPH and the voters would have still shot it down. The political climate was slanted towards people aligning themselves with Republicans, as all of the recent elections have shown, and most Republicans want roads, not trains (or at least they have since Obama said he wanted trains).

 

It's just politics as usual holding us back. The problem is with the system, not the 3C plan.

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jam40jeff I completely agree with you. I feel that if this was a seperate issue on the ballot that it would have been better informed to people and they would have been able to make the right decision. There was just too much republican alignment with the "we dont like trains" mentality that it was impossible to get done, even though all signs pointed otherwise.

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Stops like Crestline amounted to speed bumps on a project whose main weakness was speed.  It wasn't really 3C... it was 3C+D, which made sense, but it was also 3C+D+c+r+s and whatever else.  Each stop made less and less sense, the more clear it became that travel time between the major markets was a critical issue.  Sorry Crestline. 

 

I couldn't disagree with you, more. First, these stops take a few minutes at most. Hardly enough to make a dent in the overall speed.

 

Second, most metro-{Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati} residents don't live near the train station and making them drive or take other transportation into city center would be a waste if a stop along the way will do. I routinely take the Amtrak between DC and Pittsburgh and I work in Chantilly. Rockville and Harper's Ferry stops make it possible for people who live and work in the Metro DC area NOT have to travel to Union Station (which I love, but it isn't exactly convenient, especially since they decided not to make the Metro come out here when they first built the system).

 

Assuming that the majority of your riders would want to go from downtown A to downtown B is a pretty big (and, IMHO, fallacious) assumption. In my own experience, the destination may be downtown but the origin is often otherwise.

 

In fact, I live along the original Pittsburgh, Ft. Wayne and Chicago Railroad (Pennsylvania RR). five doors down from the old train station (now a VFW). When I don't take the train, one of the reasons is that it is too inconvenient for to get a car, drive downtown, and park, yet the Capitol Limited passes my house twice a day (and there is still a tunnel under the tracks).

 

Access and convenience are as or more important than speed, in my experience.

 

By the way, I got an investment newsletter, today. The lead article:

 

The Four Ways to Profit From $150 Oil

 

By Dr. Kent Moors, Ph.D., Contributing Writer, Money Morning

 

Crude oil is about to skyrocket in price.

 

In fact, I believe we'll be looking at $150-a-barrel oil by mid-summer.

 

For most U.S. consumers, higher oil will equate to higher expenses, and a bigger drain on the household budget.

 

MOD EDIT:  Added link to article in title.

 

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No doubt it would have attracted ridership. But the issue was attracting popular and political support to get it built. Previous Amtrak projects elsewhere are not relevant benchmarks in this market. Those have nothing to do with the travel options presented to Ohioans in 2010. It's unfortunate that the rigid federal planning structure would not allow us to respond to market concerns and cut stops to increase the average speed upfront.

 

Everyone has to deal with those rigid federal planning requirements. That's not the problem. The problem is Ohio has low self-esteem and is unwilling to accept risk as a condition for growth. And as I've said a million times, you cannot grow without risk.

 

That is an extremely offensive and sanctimonious sentiment, and therefore a horrible marketing strategy.  Or, forget strategy--it's simply a horrible assumption on which to base any marketing strategy, or to explain any failure of marketing strategy.  I could just as easily spout equally sanctimonious drivel that Ohio rejected the 3C plan because it has high self-esteem.  You can get away with venting that kind of sentiment here, since this forum is one of the virtual temples of the train cult, but to the extent you seriously believe that, ask yourself if that extremely unflattering sentiment might not have been tempering your public advocacy efforts notwithstanding any attempts you might have made to soften your disdain in public.

 

In a similar vein, I hardly think that insufficient appetite for risk in economic development characterizes a new gubernatorial administration that has proposed to privatize the Ohio Department of Development, among other things.  In addition, increasing passenger rail travel options would in many ways be a plan to reduce risk (both because of lower cost per passenger-mile when trains reach a certain capacity) and for simple diversification reasons; it would have been much better to market the 3C as a way of reducing exposure to sudden gasoline price spikes.  Ohio's electorate is indeed somewhat temperamentally risk-averse, but it would definitely be possible to come up with a marketing strategy playing into that mentality.

 

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best: Ohio rejected the 3C plan largely because it elected a governor with significant personal antipathy to the project in an anti-incumbent wave year.  Most Ohioans probably really wouldn't care one way or the other about the project.  There were certainly other factors in play as well, ones that are much more legitimate and less patronizing than "low self-esteem" among those who felt differently than you, including the perfectly justified fear of Ohioans (and citizens of many other states) of ever-expanding federal spending (not that the rejection of those dollars actually reduced federal spending, of course--I'm well aware that the decision to reject the grant was materially contrary to Ohio's interests).

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jam40jeff I completely agree with you. I feel that if this was a seperate issue on the ballot that it would have been better informed to people and they would have been able to make the right decision. There was just too much republican alignment with the "we dont like trains" mentality that it was impossible to get done, even though all signs pointed otherwise.

 

You are forgetting the 3C project was already funded with $400-million in 100% federal dollars.  What would you have put on a ballot?....and why?

 

As for the opposition, as close as the election was (less than 2% margin), if Gov. Strickland had stepped up to the plate and fought for his own passenger rail initiative like he should have done, we might be talking differently today.  Instead, he went silent until after the election was over and only then did he speak up....too little too late.  The opponents arguments were full of holes you could drive a locomotive through.  But they kept throwing curveball after curveball and the Governor just stood there without taking a swing, as did the rest of the statewide Democratic candidates.

 

Despite that, passenger rail will happen in Ohio and it may come sooner if $150-a-barrell oil hits the market (as seanmcl rightly points out).  It may take a crisis to embarrass our new Governor and state legislators into taking action.... but an opportunity like Ohio had with the $400-million was a once in a lifetime chance.

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jam40jeff I completely agree with you. I feel that if this was a seperate issue on the ballot that it would have been better informed to people and they would have been able to make the right decision. There was just too much republican alignment with the "we dont like trains" mentality that it was impossible to get done, even though all signs pointed otherwise.

 

You are forgetting the 3C project was already funded with $400-million in 100% federal dollars.  What would you have put on a ballot?....and why?

 

.... but an opportunity like Ohio had with the $400-million was a once in a lifetime chance.

 

I dont mean I would have actually put it on the ballot. I just mean as a seperate issue the facts would not have been clouded by political party. If it were to have been straight issue-based, I think it would have ended with more support for 3C.. but since the Rep's were seeking something to stand against, the 3C got more negative press than it deserved.

 

I think you are right about the last sentence, too.. *shudder* ugh.

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Gramarye, And I'm beyond offended. I'm sick with the rural and exurban apartheidists who are destroying this state because they have been destroying its cities for 40 years. How many times have you heard Ohio doesn't have the population density for rail? If that isn't low-esteem (if not pathetic ignorance), then please tell me what it is. I've heard too many times that Ohio is a rural state, even though it is in top-10 in population density, and has the same population density as France. But the anti-urban apartheid sees Ohio as a white, rural/exurban, stepford-wives Bible-thumping state not because it's what it is, but because it's what they want it to become. And if you repeat something often enough, they start to believe it.

 

And if that wasn't enough of a shot between the eyes, the here's an even more damning statement... I believe that Ohio's failure to accept the 3C project is instead indicative of:

 

> a horde of highway zombies (forget rail cultists!) who believe having 91 percent of Ohioans driving is not good enough (the fact we spend 98% of ODOT's budget on roads is clear that they are pushing this social and highway monopolistic agenda on us, and anyone who doesn't drive does not yet count as a human being who is deserving of access to jobs, education, health care, etc.),

 

> ignorance of worldwide transition among civilized nations away from roadway investment toward rail and transit (are we that much smarter than the civilized nations of the world who understand the difference between access vs. mobility, or quality-of-life vs. quality-of-business-climate, or the value of time vs. speed),

 

> general ignorance of demographic changes affecting Ohio (the two largest demographic groups in Ohio are driving less yet Ohio wants to spend more on roads -- now there's a recipe for economic success, retaining residents, and ensuring future economic and political stability!), and

 

> suicidal blindness toward an onrushing energy crisis so potentially destructive that The Great Recession may be merely The Great Prelude (Ohioans who deny 3C funding are akin to standing on the Titanic because that big, ostentatious ship was a lot more intoxicating than those lifeboats like 3C now look, but we'll see who would have had the more comfortable watercraft by morning).

 

 

Given this, I don't find it offensive what these blind/ignorant/stupid/crazy people have done with 3C and are threatening to do with the Cincinnati Streetcar. Instead, I find it criminal. So here's a new slogan for them: "Ohio. It deserves to be dying."


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The sad fact is that most Americans (not just Ohioans) are simply ill-educated about economics. $7 million dollars a year sounds like alot of money (in reality, about $0.58/capita; less than a can of soda) especially when we are talking about something that hasn't even been built, yet. And that, on top of a political tone which saw "hope" turned into "fear", simply made that seem worse. The Republicans (I won't call them fiscal conservatives because they aren't), were able to turn the "fear" of runaway spending and increased taxes into a vote for the status quo.

 

I wonder how many of those who believed that 58 cents/year is a bad investment pay $29 or more/month to get cable TV?

 

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Serenity vv

 

solo-unit.jpg


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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It's true that many Americans, including intelligent, college-educated Americans, lack an understanding of basic economic principles.  One should be careful about always assuming that the ignorant one are always everyone other than ourselves, though.  I have twenty-five hours of formal undergraduate economics education, another three at the professional school level, and some various other professional exposure to law & economics concepts, and still maintain a healthy professional skepticism about my own grasp of the subject (and an even greater skepticism of those who can't engage in the same self-interrogation).

 

However, the fact that average Americans are not economists shouldn't automatically spell doom for rail projects or guarantee dollars to road projects.

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However, the fact that average Americans are not economists shouldn't automatically spell doom for rail projects or guarantee dollars to road projects.

 

But a basic understanding of the principles that underly the economy is critical to understanding what our politicians are doing in the name of "recovery". As a small business owner, I understand the need for capital, especially when business is bad. Sure, you can cut costs to a point, but you can't cut costs to zero and still be in business. To stay in business and grow, you need capital.

 

Now capital is not easy to get right now, in spite of the fact that businesses are sitting on loads of it. Government becomes the last resort. And here is the irony. As government spends less, business becomes more uncertain.

 

Consider the scuttled plan to build DMU's in Ohio (as well as Forest City's scuttled plans for development). When the Feds were going spend $400 million, other businesses were willing to spend to get a piece of the pie. When Ohio refused the funds, private capital walked away.

 

My prediction is that at no time during Kasich's administration will the private economic investment in Ohio will come close to what was forecast for the 3-C.

 

Businesses understand that assuming short term debt is often times necessary for long term growth. As long as your projections for revenue are reasonable, assuming risk becomes reasonable (and, more importantly,  not assuming risk can spell doom for your enterprise). People understood that too, at one time. Your house, essentially, put you in debt but the investment appeared safe. The reason that it wasn't, for many, is not a reason to abandon the principle. Governments can run deficits for long periods of time; people can't and they shouldn't expect their goverment to behave as they would.

 

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Of course, 3-C wasn't killed by average Americans lacking knowledge in economics. It was killed by a Wall Street banker, who ought to know better.

 

Very likely he did. One of the interesting thing about this last election was how often the electorate was lied to in order to play to their prejudices. And we can't exclude the power of lobbies who have a lot more to give a campaign than the citizens of Crestline.

 

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If Ohio democrats had turned out for the midterms, we'd have both Strickland and a more favorable legislature, and we'd have 3C.  3C should have been the perfect wedge issue to motivate democratic voters but that didn't happen.  Pro-rail liberal democrats didn't get behind 3C.  That's why we don't have it, not because of lies or lobbyists.  Most republican voters were already against it on a conceptual level.  What was any lobbyist going to tell them that they didn't already believe?  But democrats, who were perfectly aware of 3C and Strickland's support of it, were not motivated to turn out.  This wasn't a issue of countering the other side, this was an issue of rallying the base.

 

The next democratic candidate for governor needs to be armed with a rail proposal that will motivate rank and file democrats.  For the most part, those voters don't live in Crestline or Sharonville.  But thousands upon thousands live in the northern tier of the state.  If getting passenger rail into Cincinnati is such a logistical and political conundrum, then screw it.  At least initially.  Develop a plan that provides maximum service to the areas most likely to assure its political success.  That means serving Toledo and Youngstown before Cincinnati, and certainly before serving every right-leaning car-dependent small town along the way.  It probably means serving Columbus too, but only in a way that's competitive with driving down 71.  And that pretty much means non-stop.   

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Even with Strickland re-elected and the House remaining Democratic, Obama still would have pulled back the funds for 3C because a needed supermajority vote by the State Controlling Board wasn't likely. Please read my earlier message on this subject.

 

And to deny the role of lobbyists is to deny who runs elected officials, especially legislators. Ohio is still very much a "pay to play" state.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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And to deny the role of lobbyists is to deny who runs elected officials, especially legislators. Ohio is still very much a "pay to play" state.

 

It isn't just Ohio. Drive from PA to MD and you see poster after poster: "Coal: More and more green, but always red white and blue." The message is clear. To support the status quo (meaning the status quo for the last 50 years), is to support America. It is no longer political rhetoric, it is background noise, the elevator music that we listen to as we go through our lives.

 

The message is, that the way of life that we have, today, is to be defended. We've forgotten that adaptation to change was what made us great. The clipper ships that we developed were the fastest sailing vessels in the world. They established our dominance as a purveyor of goods, worldwide. But they succeeded only because we were willing to throw out ideas that didn't work in favor of ideas that might.

 

Funny that we are willing to discard some of the marvels of American architecture, like New York Penn Station, the demolation of which led to the architectural preservation movement in the US, but we won't throw away the automobile. Why, because what was once a necessity, the trains, became a luxury. And what was, once, a luxury, has become a necessity.

 

And the sad fact is that none of us seems to resent that. None of seems to resent that where, once, no one would think of spending $20,000 for a five year rail pass, we now spend that for something that works maybe, two, or three hours a day, maybe for five years, maybe more. But far more than what mass transit would have cost us.

 

Ironically, part of the undoing of the railroads was the influence of the Robber Barons who could make or break whole communities and even whole industries. Their problem was that they could not figure out how to make us aware of how we benefited from and shared in their prosperity.

 

Today's transportation interests are more concerned about how easy it is for us to get to WalMart. What they should be thinking about is how easy it is for the goods to get from the manufacturer to WalMart because most of the costs that we pay is the cost of shipping (between 50 and 75% depending upon whether the goods are bulk or finished).

 

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Of course, 3-C wasn't killed by average Americans lacking knowledge in economics. It was killed by a Wall Street banker, who ought to know better.

 

The underlying premise here is that Wall Street bankers are a somehow more intelligent or economically savvy form of life.

 

I might question that premise ...

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However, the fact that average Americans are not economists shouldn't automatically spell doom for rail projects or guarantee dollars to road projects.

 

But a basic understanding of the principles that underly the economy is critical to understanding what our politicians are doing in the name of "recovery". As a small business owner, I understand the need for capital, especially when business is bad. Sure, you can cut costs to a point, but you can't cut costs to zero and still be in business. To stay in business and grow, you need capital.

 

Now capital is not easy to get right now, in spite of the fact that businesses are sitting on loads of it. Government becomes the last resort. And here is the irony. As government spends less, business becomes more uncertain.

 

Consider the scuttled plan to build DMU's in Ohio (as well as Forest City's scuttled plans for development). When the Feds were going spend $400 million, other businesses were willing to spend to get a piece of the pie. When Ohio refused the funds, private capital walked away.

 

All this makes sense to me, and I didn't mean for anything I wrote above to imply otherwise.

 

Businesses understand that assuming short term debt is often times necessary for long term growth. As long as your projections for revenue are reasonable, assuming risk becomes reasonable (and, more importantly,  not assuming risk can spell doom for your enterprise). People understood that too, at one time. Your house, essentially, put you in debt but the investment appeared safe. The reason that it wasn't, for many, is not a reason to abandon the principle. Governments can run deficits for long periods of time; people can't and they shouldn't expect their goverment to behave as they would.

 

This is a bit different, but it goes beyond the ambit of 3C.

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Keep it about 3C please. 

 

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“All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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Though the 3C project was killed off by our esteemed Governor (at least by proxy).... you might be interested in what the Stimulus Act did for passenger rail in the rest of the nation.

 

The following report has been issued by AASHTO (the Assocation of American State Highway & Transportation Officials:

http://www.amtrakdowneaster.com/sites/default/files/Passenger%20Rail%20Report_small.pdf

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Also look for regular updates at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' web page on high-speed rail at:

 

http://www.highspeed-rail.org/


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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KJP - about Ohio being as dense as France:

 

Suppose you take the total population of Ohio and divide by the total land area. Then do the same for France. The density numbers may be similar. But that only shows part of the picture.

 

Take any railroad station or subway station in France. Draw a circle around it of one-half mile radius. You will find that some of these circles have very high density. I challenge you to find any such one-mile circles in Ohio.

 

France has pockets of very high density in between miles of farmland. Ohio has a lower, more even density across more area. The worlds are very different.

 

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KJP - about Ohio being as dense as France:

Take any railroad station or subway station in France. Draw a circle around it of one-half mile radius. You will find that some of these circles have very high density. I challenge you to find any such one-mile circles in Ohio.

 

France has pockets of very high density in between miles of farmland. Ohio has a lower, more even density across more area. The worlds are very different.

 

The point being?

 

Transportation investments don't support the status quo, they evolve it. I worked in Washington DC before the beltway and the Metro. Most of the areas serviced were farmlands. No more!

 

People who point to population densities as a deciding factor simply don't understand transportation economics. "If you build it, they will come" was "Field of Dreams" logic but it made the Kroc's rich.

 

It has been known for over a century (except by American school children), that commercial investment follows transportation investment. The reason that the Robber Barons were so reviled was that they had the power to make and break communities.

 

Transportation does not follow development. It leads it. And it has ever since goods were no longer produced or consumed locally.

 

Perhaps that is where 3-C promoters failed. 3-C was not about supporting Ohioans. It was about transforming them into a modern economy.

 

I lived in DC before the Metro and I was able to observe how the Metro transformed DC into a major metropolitan force. Laying track told people where they could live. It didn't bother with where they did live.

 

It is stupid to compare TGV with Ohio's 3-C for hundreds of reasons (not the least of which is that Cincy is not Paris and Cleveland is not London). It is a fallacy. TGV was meant to move people from major metropolitan origin to major metropolitan destination, not to link the many communities along the route. But the fact is that France's (and Europe's and China's) investment was not, solely, in HSR between major metropolitan destinatioms, but also in local investment in lower speed feeder lines.

 

Comparing France to Ohio is ridiculous (except to people who have never lived and worked in both). That isn't the issue.

 

TGV was intended to do something very different than what 3-C and the Ohio Hub was intended to do. And the sad thing is that the Ohio Hub plan would have done much more for Ohio than TGV did for France.

 

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Thank you, seanmcl. Well said. In short, the density of land use is a result of the density of the transportation mode serving it. Private capital typically follows public investment, be they Roman roads, improved harbors, canals, railways, streetcars/interurbans, interstates, airports and high-speed rail.

 

The comparing of Ohio to France is useful because Ohioans have such a inferiority complex about their state they don't view as deserving of passenger rail. When my predecessor told then-Gov. Bob Taft that Ohio had the same population density as France, he replied: "You're wrong!" Other replies I've received is that rail is only for those who deserve it, like: "That's only for the East Coast or Chicago." And how did those regions get dense and stay dense?

 

Sometimes when these people are asked to question such land use patterns, they seem to think they "just happen."

 

And, we can play lots of games with pictures. Like the dense, cosmopolitan juggernaut city of Moline, Illinois, on an Amtrak route that doesn't yet exist (but received more than $300 million in state and federal stimulus funding to create). And yet here is a relatively dense (for Moline?) station-area development funded and underway:

 

image387_001-400x258.jpg

 

image409_001.jpeg

 

 

Or, at the opposite end, like this one of a high-density electric railway stopping at a resort town in Norway. Yep, love that density -- both immediately surrounding the station or nationwide (Norway as a population density of about 30 people per square mile, or 1/10th of Ohio's):

 

Train%20in%20rural%20Norway%20646d08.JPG

 

Or we can look at the 200-mph TGV Duplex arriving a ski resort in the French Alps, where the density (of snow?) is readily apparent:

 

TGVDuplexMountains.jpg

 

The density that matters most is what exists within 1,000 feet of a train station. And there was every reason to expect that such density would either be sustained, augmented or created by the 3C investment:

: http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/springfield-news/critics-say-losing-3c-will-cost-ohio-3critics-say-losing-3c-will-cost-ohio-3-billion-1043600.html

 

Maybe someday, when Ohio doesn't hide in fear from the essential ingredient of growth, we will witness it in our own backyards.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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  Ohio is not growing (Ok, we are barely growing, but soon to peak and decline) in population.

 

  The only realistic way to make Ohio look more like Europe is to abandon suburban areas wholesale and move those people to high density areas near rail transit.

 

  To increase population density near rail stations without abandoning the suburbs implies increased population growth, which is something that we just don't have.

 

  Perhaps when gasoline becomes unaffordable, people will abandon the suburbs and populate the core again. Gramarye thinks that electric cars will save the day; KJP thinks that people will embrace electric rail again. I don't know what might happen; my best guess is that the suburbs will slowly deteriorate.

 

    But to think that a new rail station will automatically generate more growth is, in my humble opinion, unrealistically optimisitc. Ohio has an excellent transportation system and is not economically limited by transportation infrastructure, I think.

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    To increase population density near rail stations without abandoning the suburbs implies increased population growth, which is something that we just don't have.

 

 

Ohio's sprawl over the last several decades has occurred without population growth, too. It was led by billions of highway dollars that paved and subsidized the way to the suburbs and moved people from the cities into economically and environmentally unsustainable patterns of development.  In 1950 the population of Cuyahoga County was 1,389,532 and the developed land took up about one-third of the county area. In 2000, the population was 1,393,978 (an increase of about 0.3 percent), and the developed area took up practically the entire county. With development spread out so much, it costs substantially more to provide the same public services to the same number of people. Rail and density would have saved the state billions of dollars over the years.

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The greatest declines in population in Ohio (outside of the urban cores, but there is nothing distinct in Ohio's experience w/ that) is in Southeast and Eastern Ohio. There has been continued growth along the I-71 corridor and even along I-75 the population has held up quite well considering the changing economic health. Certainly sectors of Ohio have largely returned to a more rural state than they were from the late 19th through mid-20th century, however, the big urban areas are muddling through transformations in their economies.

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Basicly, the urban core areas are losing population, the northwest and southeast corners of Ohio are losing population in general, and the suburban areas along the 3-C corridor are gaining population.

 

The trouble with new passenger rail is that a very high percentage of Ohioans can't even get out of their own subdivisions without driving.

 

One might say, "If they want to live in the suburbs, that's their choice, but how does that affect the 3-C?"

 

The way it affects the 3-C is that those suburbanites vote. If you wish to have the government provide rail transportation as a public service, you are fighting an uphill battle because 50% or more of voters live in suburbia and do not see the benefit of rail.

 

 

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Basicly, the urban core areas are losing population, the northwest and southeast corners of Ohio are losing population in general, and the suburban areas along the 3-C corridor are gaining population.

 

The trouble with new passenger rail is that a very high percentage of Ohioans can't even get out of their own subdivisions without driving.

 

One might say, "If they want to live in the suburbs, that's their choice, but how does that affect the 3-C?"

 

The way it affects the 3-C is that those suburbanites vote. If you wish to have the government provide rail transportation as a public service, you are fighting an uphill battle because 50% or more of voters live in suburbia and do not see the benefit of rail.

 

 

 

 

That's really an issue best addressed by local transit and how it serves....or fails to serve.... suburban area that have grown.  The 3C project would have at least gotten local transit systems to take a second look at moving people on something other than rubber tires.  Transit systems along the 3C were already looking to hook up with local station sites.  I have heard that some were even dusting off old plans for light rail and streetcars.

 

The other factor that will change the way suburbanites vote is when gasoline prices start to slam their budgets, especially given the fact that most suburban families own multiple vehicles.  The demand for more and better transit connections will likely increase.

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The other factor that will change the way suburbanites vote is when gasoline prices start to slam their budgets, especially given the fact that most suburban families own multiple vehicles.  The demand for more and better transit connections will likely increase.

 

Not necessarily.

 

Suburban houses are nearly self-contained. All utilities including cable TV are connected to the grid - the only real reason why suburbanites need to leave their houses at all are to buy groceries and things.

 

I have a feeling that the typical suburban baby boomer is going to retire, and after a trip or two, settle down at home and spend the rest of his days watching TV. The weekly trip to the grocery store will consume about 5% of the gasoline that is consumed today driving to work. As long as he can afford to maintain a car and consume a little bit of gasoline, there is no reason for him to vote for any kind of rail transit.

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The false belief that Ohio has an excellent transportation system is the start of the problems that prevent lifeboat alternatives to Ohio's highway Titanic. We are highway zombies who repeat PR slogans that have been around for decades yet have no basis in fact.

 

Ohio doesn't have an excellent transportation system. It has an extensive highway system that is overbuilt and incapable of being sustained financially. Because it is a "free" system, there is no opportunity for price to regulate the supply and demand of lane-miles. The only way we can regulate demand is by continually adding supply which further disperses population, isolates the poor and disabled, increases automobile dependency, and worsens oil dependency.

 

We also we end up with a gas tax that is not even capable of maintaining the existing highway system, let alone replacing it as roads and bridges reach the end of their 50-year lives. If politicians are unable to summon the will (and so far they have not) to raise taxes, add tolls or sell/lease the highway system, then portions of it will have to have its lane-mile reduced to afford maintaining the rest of the system. And that could begin a death spiral. The free highway system depended on the promise of ever-increasing gas tax dollars in the future to pay for present-day highway costs. Now that gas tax revenues cannot keep up with costs, the federal highway trust fund got four federal general tax revenue bailouts since 2008 totaling $38 billion (not including $27 billion in stimulus funds for roads). Now the highwaymen are considering abandoning reliance on user taxes because users are unable to sustain the highway system.

 

Peak oil may rein in a lot of this (despite desires to run cars powered by batteries using lithium or other rare materials). The way of life that America (and especially Ohio) has come to know cannot be afforded and is already eroding. Yet we leave public transit spending to local sources within declining urban areas. Thus Ohio has is an apartheid transportation system. There is a transportation system for the poor and a transportation system for everyone else. And the transportation system for poor "barely" exists. Visit Warren or Lorain or Steubenville or Zanesville and you will find little or no transit available, minimum-wage jobs located in car-dependent areas, and households with multiple wage earners that must share one car. Yet Ohio continues this pattern of transportation/land use in the hopes of achieving wealth and quality of life, yet finds less of both as we end up having to pay more to own more cars, and for duplicative infrastructure to sustain both the newer suburbs and the older city they replaced.

 

It may take the very collapse of this unsustainable lifestyle, despite our arrogance that it could never possibly fail, to make us realize that Ohio's transportation system has to change ASAP! This car-dependent transportation system was created for a wealthy state where good paying industrial and service jobs were plentiful, where one bread-winner could support an entire family with a nice house in the suburbs and two cars, where with ever-more access to cheap oil was assured from domestic sources (or worldwide if we re-tasked our military to protect it), and it would stay a pre-eminent state in a nation that was only the global economic superpower. That was more than 40 years ago.

 

The Strickland approach to developing 3C Corridor rail infrastructure failed because A. it was falsely portrayed as a stand-alone project that would be a drain on the state budget and B. because too many Ohioans are reminded by advertising, marketing and car/highway/oil industry-funded "research" that their 1950s/60s-based lifestyle can continue for decades more if only those selfish environmentalists, train cultists and social-engineering urbanist snobs will just let the car/highway/oil industry's version of the free market provide it.

 

Well, that's not sustainable, and therefore Ohio is not sustainable because its put all of its transportation eggs in one overbuilt, vulnerable basket. There's nothing that says Ohio or anyplace has to survive economically. And when a state's leaders are so influenced by the car/highway/oil industry and that the state's fortunes are dictated by the fortunes of that industry, that alone is reason enough why our transportation system needs to be diversified.

 

RANT OFF


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The other factor that will change the way suburbanites vote is when gasoline prices start to slam their budgets, especially given the fact that most suburban families own multiple vehicles.  The demand for more and better transit connections will likely increase.

 

Not necessarily.

 

Suburban houses are nearly self-contained. All utilities including cable TV are connected to the grid - the only real reason why suburbanites need to leave their houses at all are to buy groceries and things.

 

I have a feeling that the typical suburban baby boomer is going to retire, and after a trip or two, settle down at home and spend the rest of his days watching TV. The weekly trip to the grocery store will consume about 5% of the gasoline that is consumed today driving to work. As long as he can afford to maintain a car and consume a little bit of gasoline, there is no reason for him to vote for any kind of rail transit.

 

Ahem. As a baby boomer, the last thing I'm going to do is "settle down and watch TV." I'll be wayyyy too busy for that and when I do decide to bag it and retire, I'll move to a community where driving is a choice and not a mandate and will drive much less. I'll want more alternatives to driving and will be willing to move to get what I want.

 

Suburban houses are self contained...until you have to drive 20 miles to work, 2 miles for a loaf of bread or 10 miles to the mall for a pair of underwear. The 'burbs are totally dependent on the auto...you have to drive everywhere and a lot of them don't even have sidewalks!

 

For these reasons the 'burbs are much more vulnerable to higher gas prices. Noozer is right.

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KJP - TODAY, the typical suburbanite can drive between any two points in Ohio at any time. (Kelly's island, etc. excluded.) Virtually every point in Ohio is within a mile of a paved road. That is an excellent transportation system.

 

The poor, disabled, etc., who are underserved by the highway system are also under-represented in politics. If we have any kind of election TODAY that forces a vote between drivers and non-drivers, the drivers are sure to win because there are more drivers that vote than non-drivers. Getting drivers to vote for rail is a losing battle.

 

EVERYONE is vulnerable to higher gas prices. One could make the argument that the suburbs are LESS vulnerable, not because they are less dependent on driving, but because they have more wealth. If gasoline production falls, who do you think is going to end up with the available gasoline, the suburbanite who makes $60,000 per year or the city dweller that makes $20,000?

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