LIMA — Bringing back the past or looking to the future. Those are the two choices that could link Lima with Chicago, Columbus and Pittsburgh.
On Wednesday, members of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission talked about whether it’s feasible to bring passenger rail passenger service back to the region or get on board with Hyperloop.
“We had previously looked at the feasibility for passenger rail in the past and took this new opportunity to advance that study as well as then inform us about the new technology of Hyperloop on a similar corridor,” said Thea Walsh,
“As you look into passenger rail or Hyperloop, you see that both technologies are feasible on this corridor connecting Pittsburgh, Columbus through Lima on over to Chicago,” said Thea Walsh, transportation and infrastructure development director with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. “It’s all about really determining that speed and the investment that would need to happen and pretty much the economic benefits that could be reached by either of those technologies.”
They presented their initial findings of the Rapid Speed Transportation Initiative at the Lima council chambers Wednesday night.
Each option has its pros and cons, Walsh said.
“Of course, one moves slower than the other. One is a known quantity, known technology that we have here in the United States,” she said. “It wouldn’t have to go through that certification process, so there’s not as big of a regulatory mountain to climb when you look at passenger rail.
“On the other hand, a new technology could mean that we could move a lot faster and could move in one place and work in another that’s much further away, so the idea of being near to something grows into a much broader circle than what we’ve ever had before.”
In either scenario, the Lima stop could be at the old train station, the Cambridge Center, which is now where you pay your water bills at the end of Central Avenue.
An alternate route could be south of the city but that’s not the preferred route.
Lima Mayor David Berger was pleased to see more information come out about the two plans.
“I do believe that Hyperloop is going to be developed and implemented somewhere in the United States,” he said. “I do think that the proposal that Columbus has developed in conjunction with other partners is competitive. It is a new technology. It will take time, but this is one of a half a dozen proposals that are competing throughout the United States, and it’s great for us to be a part of that,” said Berger.
Members of the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association were also present for Wednesday. That organization is committed to having passenger rail services from Chicago, across northern Indiana with stops in Gary, Valparaiso, Plymouth, Warsaw and Fort Wayne and then on to Lima.
“I think it’s an interesting concept that is probably down the road a bit. It’s expensive,” said Fred Lanahan, president of the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association. “If they get the venture capital behind it, it could happen. We have been focused on passenger rail, so that’s our focus, but with MORPC going in and Ohio going in for the Hyperloop idea, it’s got possibilities. It’s got real possibilities.”
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.