Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Neighbor to the Nor...err I mean West

Usually, most of the energy we Western Pennsylvanians focus on Ohio has to do with their terrible NFL football teams. When it comes to planning a new HSR SYSTEM, however, they are light years ahead of us. I talked a little bit yesterday about where various other HSR corridors stand, and because Ohio is our neighbor to the west, I wanted to focus a little more exclusively on them.

You could argue that Pennsylvania already has HSR (or at least a version of it) both on the NEC (Northeast Corridor) and the Keystone Corridor from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. However, we as a state seem to be pretty satisfied with that and have therefore become complacent (insert your favorite Harrisburg loves Philadelphia, hates Pittsburgh comment here).

They have become so complacent tht when I searched PENNDOT's website for "High Speed Rail" I got this message in reply. When I search for Ohio HSR, I found several websites, including All Aboard Ohio, which is a non-profit rail advocacy group which is very involved in making HSR a reality. Additionally, unlike PENNDOT, ODOT has an entire website devoted to their plan. Here's a summary of their accomplishments found on the "Ohio Hub" website*.

-Funding Requests have been completed and submitted for all four phases of the project
-A full report has been completed and includes:
  • Feasibility estimates
  • Capital and Engineering Costs
  • Operating strategies and operation costs
  • Ridership forecasts
  • Fleet Requirements
  • A number of appendices that tackle many of the practical issues including freight integration, funding and scheduling

Here's a quick summary of what Pennsylvania has done to secure funding to extend the Keystone Corridor to Pittsburgh:
  • Jason Altmire has said we need to begin work to secure funding to extend the Keystone Corridor or connect Pittsburgh to Cleveland
  • That's all
We may be better at football, but I sure am envious of what Ohio has done to position themselves towards the head of the line for HSR funding.

Pennsylvania is either happy with what it's got already or is completely distracted by the budget fight going on in Harrisburg. Ohio seems to want to include Pittsburgh in its plans but we have to assume that the State of Pennsylvania will have to involve themselves in some way shape or form. We, as a state can't sit here and think that Ohio is going to take care of everything for us. The Pittsburgh to Cleveland connection is phase 4 of the 4 in the project. I couldn't even estimate how long Phase 1 will take, let alone phase 4.

The last thing Pittsburgh needs is to be an isolated backwater to a budding HSR network.

*You could spend hours on this website, it has maps of the four phases, an archive of project related documents and reports, along with news concerning the project, and other info about HSR

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