Ohio to be Part of Midwest Rail Planning Group

Ohio will take part in a multi-state planning initiative for the Midwest led by the Federal Railroad Administration .

Detrails of the planning work will be announced soon. Formation of the planning group is required by law before federal funding can be awarded to service expansions and capital improvements.

All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group, said that the news comes as Congress is finishing work on a reauthorization of a six-year surface transportation law that includes passenger rail provisions.

The legislation includes 100 percent percent federal operating funding for new or expanded routes of 750 miles or more.

All of Ohio’s existing Amtrak routes fall into that category.

A more detailed, formal announcement of the grant award will soon be made by the FRA, which recently notified Congress about the multi-state planning.

The funding, totaling $2.78 million, is being used for FRA-led planning in the Midwest and Southeast.

For the Midwest, the FRA approved an application submitted in November 2014. This planning will be similar to that which was recently conducted for the Southwest.

The multi-state plan also will include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

Planning will be federally led rather than awarded to states. Therefore, the FRA will conduct passenger rail planning in Ohio and other states.

For Ohio’s short-distance corridor planning, regional planning agencies will no longer need to take the lead on sponsoring planning. The local agencies will instead take on a more traditional role of supporting the FRA planning work, notifying stakeholders of developments and being conduits of stakeholder input.

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