Ohio rail money will go to California, Florida, New York

8:00 PM, Dec 9, 2010   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

In a phone conversation today, Secretary LaHood informed the governor that, based on his conversations with Kasich, the bulk of Ohio's $400 million will be sent to California and Florida.  Washington State, Illinois and other states are also expected to benefit.

Ohio competed against other states and won $400 million based on the strength of Ohio's plan to restore passenger rail to the most densely populated corridor in the country without passenger rail, the Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, or 3C-D, corridor.

Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish (D-Beachwood) said, "Today Ohio has lost an important engine of economic recovery. By giving away 400 million of our tax dollars to places like Florida and California, Governor-Elect Kasich has moved Ohio's economic recovery off-track."

"This money could have put thousands of Ohioans to work, connected our state to a new national passenger rail system, and improved our rail infrastructure in a way that would have significantly improved our freight rail system."

"We have worked hard in the Ohio House to encourage job growth and economic development. If actions such as this are the sort of thing we can expect out of the Kasich Administration, then our efforts to restore Ohio's prosperity will run out of steam as other states travel forward."

Late Thursday, Gov.-elect John Kasich's office released a statement:

"Governor-elect Kasich is disappointed that the White House is not giving Ohio the flexibility he has asked for to use the money for infrastructure needs, like freight rail that can spur commerce and economic growth."

"Additionally, the Gov.-elect specifically asked that, if the money could not be reprogrammed, then return it to the Treasury to reduce the deficit. He finds it tragic that, instead of saving taxpayer money, they would simply waste it elsewhere. Washington needs to end its addiction to spending that is mortgaging our kids' futures."

Kasich rarely minced words when it came to the proposed Cleveland-to-Cincinnati passenger train, declaring the idea "dead" under his watch, while deriding the locomotive's "high speed" name.

The train would operate four times a day, making six stops (including Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati) over its 258-mile route across Ohio.

The rail plan Kasich says prefers -- one to get Ohio's economy moving forward -- is to get more freight trains to ship goods made in Ohio to out-of-state places.

He called the passenger train a "money pit" because it is estimated it will cost the state about $17 million annually to maintain and operate it, with no guarantee enough Ohioans will buy tickets to eat up those expenses.

"They tried to give us $400 million to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour," Kasich told CNN reporter John King during a television interview on Nov. 19.

The average speed of the train would be 39 miles and hour but it could reach top speeds of 79 miles per hour.

Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) said, "It is extremely disappointing that the money secured for Ohio's rail project will now be used to create jobs and improve the infrastructure in other states when it could be creating thousands of jobs here in Ohio and strengthening our infrastructure."

"Today is one of the saddest days during my four years as governor," Strickland said.

"Because I see jobs leaving Ohio, I see resources leaving Ohio, I see vital infrastructure leaving Ohio. And I see other states being enriched by resources that would otherwise have created thousands of new jobs, revitalized our cities and helped keep our young people in Ohio."

"I can't understand the logic of giving up these vital, job-creating resources to California and Florida at a time when so many Ohioans need jobs."

Strickland offered to work closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation to wrap up the current passenger rail study currently underway.

"I fear that history will show that this one, uninformed decision will be looked upon with regret by future generations of Ohioans," Strickland said.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown commented on the loss of the rail money.

"It's a great day for New Yorkers and Californians but a truly disappointing one for Ohioans waiting for jobs and waiting for passenger rail," Brown said.

"With so many Ohioans struggling, I don't understand why we would give up on funds that create thousands of jobs and promote millions' of dollars worth of economic development. It's not just manufacturing and construction jobs we're losing, it's lost economic development opportunities along the proposed route and surrounding the proposed stations."

"By turning our backs on this federal investment, we are turning our backs on opportunity to bring rail manufacturing jobs to Ohio."

"Ohio cannot be an island. If we're serious about economic development and job creation, we need to connect our state to a nationwide rail system. We cannot accept the status quo of being home to most densely-populated area in the country with no passenger rail service."

State Sen. Shirley Smith (D-21) said, "Like the investments that we are making in the Third Frontier Program, passenger rail was going to be a job-creating engine of growth for our state.   Today's announcement that 3-C&D passenger rail money will be redirected to other states will isolate Ohio from a growing, regional transportation network."

"And it closes the door on the creation of 16,000 permanent jobs. Worse yet, most of the track improvements funded by this money would also have benefited Ohio's freight trains.  Ohio was on track to recovery."

"Regrettably, this moment should teach all Ohio leaders a painful but valuable lesson: if we fail to commit to investing in our own state, then neither will the leaders in Washington."

State Sen. Nina Turner (D-25) said, "I am deeply disappointed to learn that Ohio's rail funds will be sent to other states.  At a time when so many of our fellow Ohioans are breaking under the strain of financial hardship, I find it troubling that the Governor-elect is willing to sacrifice a $400 million infusion into our state's economy that would put people back to work, create new industries and help revitalize our cities."

"Through my service as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee, I developed a thorough understanding of this project's value to our state and find it highly unfortunate that Ohio will miss out on this once in a generation opportunity."

"On the campaign trail, Governor-elect Kasich promised to put Ohioans back to work. It is frustrating to learn that he is not willing to put politics aside to create jobs and move our state forward."

WKYC-TV

Most Watched Videos