Youngstown Vindicator: Ohio must not allow Amtrak to slip away

Ohio may be in danger of missing out, if state officials do not get a little more excited about proposals for expansion of Amtrak service in the state. In May, the Federal Railroad Administration will finalize plans for an Amtrak expansion, after which states will have a chance to apply for pieces of the $66 billion for passenger rail included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

But, according to a report by cleveland.com, there isn’t much enthusiasm for the idea.

“I think Ohio runs the risk of essentially getting left behind in the dust of other states,” Stu Nicholson, executive director of All Aboard Ohio, a nonprofit that advocates for increased passenger rail service in the state, told a reporter.

“We’re seeing other states starting to take advantage of the fact that there is this huge amount of money on the table. We’re still waiting for Ohio to raise its hand.”

According to Amtrak’s expansion plan, released last year, investments in the Buckeye State could include a new service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati; and an expansion of the service along existing routes in Northern Ohio. Cleveland and Cincinnati would be mini-passenger rail hubs. Columbus would have service for the first time in more than 40 years.

But as other states rally to prepare grant applications, Ohio officials shrug their shoulders.

Given Ohio’s push to be attractive to major employers, and provide better resources for residents (particularly as private transportation evolves and gets more expensive), it seems a no-brainer to be actively seeking funding to partner with Amtrak on an expansion.

Should they continue not to understand that, state officials are in real danger of leaving Ohioans stranded while other states take advantage of an important opportunity.

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Youngstown Vindicator