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Kasich wants to use $400M in rail funds for other purposes



Published: Tue, November 9, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Mark Niquette

Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS

Gov.-elect John Kasich asked Gov. Ted Strickland to halt studies for a high-speed passenger-rail system, and he wants President Barack Obama to allow Ohio to use the $400 million in rail funds for roads or freight rail instead.

But federal officials say the money can’t be re-purposed, and Strickland, who has championed the passenger-rail project linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, said Monday he will move forward with it as long as he is in office.

Kasich repeatedly contended before defeating Strickland in last week’s election that the rail project is not viable. He wrote to Strickland asking him to “prevent unnecessary spending” on a project that he intends to scrap.

“I realize that we disagree on this issue, but I am confident that you and your administration will respect my request and take the steps that are in the best interest of Ohio taxpayers,” wrote Kasich, who takes office Jan. 10.

Kasich also wrote to Obama on Monday asking him to make provisions for Ohio to use the $400 million in federal stimulus money awarded to the state passenger rail on highway- infrastructure or freight-rail needs instead.

The White House referred questions about Kasich’s request to the U.S. Department of Transportation, which released a letter from Secretary Ray LaHood to Scott Walker, the governor-elect in Wisconsin, who also opposes a high-speed rail project in that state.

“None of the money provided to Wisconsin may be used for road and highway projects, or anything other than high-speed rail,” LaHood wrote.

New York’s governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo, has asked for Ohio’s rail funds if Kasich rejects the money. But Kasich said in his letter to Obama that if Ohio can’t use the money, it should be used to reduce the $1.4 trillion federal deficit.

Kasich wants the Ohio Department of Transportation to terminate contracts with two consultants valued at up to $25 million to study the environmental effects of the train service and to work with freight railroads on sharing tracks.

Strickland’s spokeswoman said the study is well under way and will produce valuable information that will be useful even if the current proposal is killed.

“So even if the governor-elect chooses not to support rail when he takes office, future governors or legislators with a vision for a modern Ohio will have better information as a result of this work,” spokeswoman Kelly Schlissberg said.


Comments

1timOthy(802 comments)posted 4 years ago

If not used here in Ohio send the money to New York for their train system. Kasich is already trying to break the rules and laws that Govern this money. Going to be a long four years,but we will make it.Hope you do too liar and thief!!

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2realife(2 comments)posted 4 years ago

Once again the Democrats are intent upon pouring money down a black hole of waste by promoting low priority and needless passenger rail over much more critically important freight rail and highway infrastructure improvements; improvements that will make Ohio attractive to industrial development which would then actually create positive cash flow to the state's coffers by creating real jobs. Look around - we have near 100% tax payer subsidized public buses driving about the county with none or very few passengers most of the time, wasting fuel, and racking up ever higher losses, and for what purpose? Protecting high cost, inefficient, unionized public sector positions... and futue Democrat campaign workers!!? Wake up Ohio!

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3ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 4 years ago

How is asking to redirect this money "breaking the rules"? Is asking a question against the rules?

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4CityDweller(6 comments)posted 4 years ago

You may not agree with what the money is intended for but it is not a gift. It is a grant and that money must be used solely for what it was originally intended. Why would you consider giving it back? Use it for what it is intended.

The US needs to use more public transportation and fewer cars. Not just to save the environment from car emissions but also to save taxpayers money. Gas is going to continue to increase as the supply diminishes. No one can stop that. When gas spikes again, and it will, many lower income people will not be able to pay the high prices. Nor can they afford the more expensive, fuel efficient cars. More efficient public transportation is the best option (high speed trains). It has been working in Europe for decades. Once this area is linked we will have more vacation and career options. Airfare has risen so much it is becoming increasingly difficult to afford a vacation. Also, the trains will be fast enough that we could work in Cleveland/Pittsburgh and still live here. Aren’t we trying to do everything we can to keep our young people in the area? Just think of the job opportunities.

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5city_resident(513 comments)posted 4 years ago

realife, every transportation system in the state, including roads, are subsidized. Subsidized mass-transit is a drop in the bucket compared to ODOT's entire budget. (and it's not all paid for with gas taxes, registration fees, etc.)

ytownsteelman, it's not against the rules to ask the question. It's not against the law to ask a cop if you can run a red light. But, you should know the answer, and shouldn't be surprised with the answer.

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6city_resident(513 comments)posted 4 years ago

Thanks CityDweller, your post was much more reasonable and thought out than mine.

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7peacelover(791 comments)posted 4 years ago

If the cost of gas goes $3/gal or higher, that high speed rail system will look better and better.

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8ELJenkins(9 comments)posted 4 years ago

I am having a hard time understanding how speed trains really would encourage public transportation in the everyday sense. As much as I would like to shop weekly at trader joes, I don't see myself choosing taking the train and bus there over hopping in the car to go to giant eagle.
As far as a job creation/opportunity standpoint, people that live in cleveland and Columbus can't find jobs in Cleveland and Columbus. How will this help the valley? (unless you are an engineer or ticket taker!)

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9ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 4 years ago

This high speed rail only works for intracity transport. Most of the trips taken by people are within 25 miles of home and in that case a train will not do you any good. It is highly unlikely that some low income inner city dweller will be jumping on a train to go somwhere if they can't afford gas to go to the walmart five miles away. HSR is extremely limited in its usefulness since in this case if you don't want to go to a place between Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh its useless to you. Then unless your home is next door to a station or your destination is next to a station you'll still need private transport at one or both ends.

I really don't think that many of you get it. The days of spending money that doesn't exist are over, at least for now. Its going to be a tough road ahead if there are people still clinging onto pork projects such as this when the very foundations of the country have been weakened by such spending.

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