MORPC Exploring Feasibility of Chicago-Columbus High Speed Rail
As it turns out, a change.org petition is sometimes all it takes to make some changes.
In October, we reported that local alternative transportation advocacy group Transit Columbus had published an online petition to encourage the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) to further explore the feasibility of a new high speed rail corridor running from Columbus to Chicago.
The group has managed to collect over 5,100 signatures (and still counting) and today, they received a response from MORPC.
“Thank you for your support and interest in the proposed Chicago-Columbus high-speed passenger rail line and your encouragement for MORPC and the City of Columbus to further pursue the project,” said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock via email. “In conjunction with our partners at the City of Columbus and other Ohio and Indiana communities along the proposed route, MORPC is working to explore the project’s feasibility, financial viability, and level of local business and community support.”
Murdock describes the project as being potentially transformative for Central Ohio, and plans to release more information about their findings over the course of the next year.
“Transit Columbus is thrilled to gain MORPC’s support for our Change.org petition,” said Transit Columbus Board Chair Eric Davies. “We’re working diligently to champion the growth of a multi-modal transportation system within the Columbus and Central Ohio region. Intercity passenger rail is one key piece of the puzzle.”
The project is expected cost a total of $1.2 billion, with around 80% funded by the federal government, and the remaining costs divided between the three states and various municipalities that the line would impact. The study indicates that the investment would pay for itself with projected economic benefits (new jobs, tax returns and transit-oriented development) totaling over $6 billion.
Passengers would be able to travel on an express train from Columbus to Chicago in 3 hours and 45 minutes.
“Currently we are the largest metropolitan region in the US without any type of passenger rail options, added Davies. “The proposed Chicago-Columbus line offers a viable first step in making Columbus a more integrated part of a diversifying and growing transportation system within the eastern half of the US.”
More information on the feasibility study is available at www.niprarail.org.
For further discussion on the proposal, CLICK HERE to visit our messageboard.
Edit (Nov 21 – 6:35pm) – Added additional information from Transit Columbus.