Ohio rail corridor: the 3-Cs
A number of businesses, economic development groups, environmental organizations and public officials have announced campaigns to promote fast, modern passenger rail services along two routes in Ohiothe Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati (3-C) Corridor and the Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago (CTC) Corridor.
Highways at the limit
Northeast Ohio's highways are at or quickly nearing their limit. Traffic volumes in the I-71 corridor have grown at a rate of over 20 percent over the past five years and are projected to grow at a rate of 50 percent in the next 20 years, according to an Ohio Department of Transportation report on the I-71 pavement and reconstruction program (1998).
ODOT is approaching its ultimate build-out of the I-71 Corridor with respect to the interstate. Additional right of way would likely be required for additional pavement beyond the third lane in the rural sections of I-71. The need for additional right of way may make more pavement on I-71 cost prohibitive.
Capital costs to upgrade tracks and signals, separate road and rail crossings, build transportation centers and acquire train equipment for the 3-C are estimated to be between $611 million and $720 million, according to The Ohio Association of Railroad Passengers. The lower dollar figure assumes a single-track operation with passing sidings; the higher figure assumes an all-double-track operation
Nearly 60 million people travel in the 3-C Corridor each year (including metro-area commuters), with travel increasing at about 4 percent each year. About 98 percent of the traffic is being handled by I-71. Trains would carry up to 1.23 million passengers annually by 2010 and 1.8 million by 2040. That could spare the Ohio Department of Transportation from having to build a very costly fourth lane each way along some rural stretches of Interstate 71.
According to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's 1999 Annual Report: "It will cost approximately $2.54 billion in the year 2020 to expand the region's highway system to bring congestion levels back to what they were in 1995." Their suggested solutions? Make more transportation alternatives available and encourage less wasteful land use, the report said.