Posts Tagged ‘Akron’

Budget Proposal Just a Starting Point

March 21, 2017

More than likely it is a waste of time to discuss the Trump administration proposal to eliminate funding for Amtrak’s long-distance trains.

A president’s budget proposal is just that, a proposal, and no president of either party sees the budget he sent to Congress come out without any substantive changes.

For that matter the House and Senate will have their own ideas about how to spend public money, including how much to allot to the national rail passenger carrier.

Amtrak has been down this road before, many times in fact. Past administrations have proposed zeroing out Amtrak funding only to see Congress time and again appropriate just enough to keep Amtrak’s skeletal national network operating.

If anything is a surprise that the Trump budget would seek to keep any funding for Amtrak.

Amtrak may have survived past budget fights but there have been route casualties along the way. A major restructuring in 1979 killed the only Amtrak service in Columbus and Dayton with the discontinuance of the New York-Kansas City National Limited.

A 1995 restructuring killed the Broadway Limited, which wiped Akron, Youngstown and Fostoria off the Amtrak map.

They later regained service for a short time when a revived Broadway operating as the Three Rivers ran between Chicago and New York.

Another budget fight took Athens and Chillicothe out of the Amtrak network when the Cincinnati-Washington Shenandoah was discontinued in 1981.

For a short time, that 1981 budget fight kicked Cincinnati out of Amtrak, but thanks to the political clout of the late Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the Cardinal returned to its Chicago-New York flight path in early 1982, albeit as a tri-weekly rather than a daily train.

Given the history of Amtrak funding, it would seem likely that some, if not all, of Amtrak’s long-distance trains will survive due to political wrangling.

What could happen is that the fight becomes one of percentages as in what percentage of the Amtrak long-distance network will survive.

If that is the case, Ohio could be in the middle of the fight when some modifications of the long-distance route network are proposed to consolidate “duplicate” service, e.g., the Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited between Chicago and Cleveland.

I could see someone proposing reducing the Capitol Limited to a Pittsburgh-Washington service that connects with a combined Lake Shore Limited and Pennsylvanian between Chicago and New York. That would leave Erie, Pennsylvania, off the Amtrak map.

Already, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation have proposed rerouting the Lake Shore Limited through Michigan, presumably in lieu of an existing Wolverine Service train.

Someone in Washington in an Amtrak office, a Department of Transportation office and/or a congressional office has probably been studying the Amtrak map with an eye toward finding a way to end federal funding of the Lake Shore Limited by making it into a state train.

Michigan and Pennsylvania already fund the legs into Chicago and New York City respectively. Why not tell Ohio that if it wants service it needs to fund the leg between Detroit and Pittsburgh?

And if Pittsburgh-Washington service is to survive then Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia or a combination of those three states will have to fund what would be left of the Capitol Limited.

Some lawmakers like to talk about offering “options.”  They may or may not know or may or may not care that Ohio is unlikely to agree to fund the middle section of the Lake Shore Limited route.

But if Ohio says “no,” well it was given an option and it voted with its wallet.

Buried in the Trump budget proposal is the rational for sharply reducing funding for programs that benefit public transportation: “Future investments in new transit projects would be funded by the localities that use and benefit from these localized projects.”

Look for some in the coming months or years to begin seeking to apply this philosophy to funding for Amtrak long-distance trains.

It would be part of a larger effort to frame the narrative over passenger train funding as a local issue, not a national one even if the trains in question work to form a national transportation network.

Trump Budget Would Hit Ohio Public Transit

March 20, 2017

The proposed fiscal year 2018 budget submitted to Congress by the Trump administration would put funding-starved public transportation in Ohio in even more dire straits.

“We’re barely hanging on. It’s just going to make the existing problems even worse,” said Kirt Conrad, president of the Ohio Public Transit Association and CEO of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority.

President Donald J. Trump wants to cut the U.S. Department of Transportation budget by $2.4 billion, which is 13 percent.

Much of the adverse effect on public transportation could come from cuts to grant programs that benefit public transit systems.

The New Starts program, which was authorized to fund $2.3 billion in new rail or bus-rapid transit lines or to expand existing lines through 2020, was used by Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority’s HealthLine on Euclid Avenue.

“It [budget cuts] really potentially cuts future transit expansions in the country in general. It’s not just Ohio; in the whole country, public transit is at risk,” Conrad said. “In Ohio, without the federal support, I do not see those expansions.”

Also slated to be cut is the TIGER grant proram, which has also been used to fund transit in Ohio.

TIGER grants have funded rehabilitation of RTA stations, including the Little Italy-University Circle station and the University-Cedar station.

Two TIGER grants awarded in 2016 funded bicycle infrastructure in Cleveland and Akron.

Ohio transportation officials say the state’s transit systems rely on federal funding because Ohio limits the use of gas tax revenue to road projects.

Further squeezing public transit systems is a coming loss of revenue from a Medicaid MCO sale tax, which had been used for transit funding.

Starting in 2019, public transit systems in Ohio will lose $34 annually from that revenue source.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has proposed increasing state funding for public transportation by $10 million to make up part of the slack being left by the loss of the Medicaid MCO sales tax.

“Access to public transit is just getting worse, not better, in Ohio,” Conrad said.

Although the impact of the proposed Trump budget on highway construction and maintenance funding has yet to come into clear focus, transportation officials say that the loss of TIGER grants will have an adverse effect by removing another source of federal funding.

A $125 million TIGER grant helped pay, for example, for the new eastbound span of the George V. Voinovich (Innerbelt Bridge).

The Trump budget would also shift responsibility for air traffic control from the Federal Aviation administration to an independent, non-governmental organization.

PUCO OKs Akron Grade Crossing Upgrade

January 25, 2017

Grade crossing projects involving the Wheeling & Lake Erie and R.J. Corman have been approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

PUCOIThe W&LE will install lights and gates at the Summit Street crossing in Akron, and at Scott Road/County Road 50 in Crawford County.

Corman will install lights and gates in Strasburg in Tuscarawas County at Zeltman Avenue NE and at 12th Street NE

All projects must be completed by Oct. 18 and are being funded with federal funds provided through the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

In The January 2017 ARRC eBulletin

January 22, 2017

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Akron Junction doesn’t look the same as it once did. Last year CSX removed most of the rails there, thus severing the connection between its New Castle Subdivision and the former Cleveland-Akron-Canton Valley Line. You can read all about it and view photographs of Akron Junction today in the cover article for the January 2017 Akron Railroad Club eBulletin.

To obtain a copy or to subscribe to the eBulletin, send an email request to csanders429@aol.com. A subscription and single copies are free.

What a Way to Open the CVSR 2017 Season!

January 21, 2017
At Peninsula with a bit of fog lingering in the trees.

At Peninsula with a bit of fog lingering in the trees.

Cruising at Bath Road.

Cruising at Bath Road.

At Akron Northside station.

At Akron Northside station.

The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad opened up the 2017 season on Saturday by using fresh out of the shop 6777 back to back with 6771. How cool is it to see and hear in 2017 an FPA4 set, with both of them in a clean and sharp paint scheme.

Photographs by Roger Durfee

CVSR Debuts Matching FPA4s on Scenic Train

January 21, 2017

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The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad started its 2017 season on Saturday with matched Montreal Locomotive Works FPA4 diesels on the southbound end of the train. CVSR 6777 just received this paint scheme. Here are CVSR 6777, 6771 at Akron Northside Station. Also shown is ex-Pennsylvania Railroad Paul Revere, which was part of Saturday’s train.

Photographs by Robert Farkas

Railroading as It Once Was: Legit Tagging

December 28, 2016

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Here is some legit tagging from May 1978. In 1975 Clipper Express let the West Town Community Youth Art Center of Chicago paint one of its TOFC trailers. There were several other Clipper Express trailers painted with various themes, too. This unit was on Conrail TV 98 eastbound on the former Erie Lackawanna in Akron.

Photograph by Roger Durfee

Railroading as it Once Was: Yes, It’s Conrail

December 22, 2016

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Conrail 5985, a former Erie Lackawanna GP-7, prepares to head west on the ex-EL in Akron in March 1978 with local PE-1. The Erie searchlight signal was still in use at this time as were the ex-EL mains. Nothing of the EL remains at this location today and all the buildings behind the train have been torn down.

Article and Photograph by Roger Durfee

Still Flying the Flag 56 Years Later

December 19, 2016

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There is something comforting about seeing a relic of the long ago past even if it is just a rusty hulk of its former self. I have had a lifelong interest in history so finding such relics is a way to see and almost touch something that I never was able to experience in its prime.

Such is the case with old railroad bridges that still wear the markings of a past owner. As this is posted in December 2016, it has been 56 years since the Erie Railroad operated its last train.

In October 1960 it merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western to form the Erie Lackawanna. Even that road has been gone now for 40 years.

Much of the former Erie in Northeast Ohio has been abandoned. Some rails are still in place, but have been out of service for many years.

Motorists traveling on North Forge Street in Akron, Ohio, can see a daily reminder of the Erie.

This bridge carried the Chicago route of the Erie over North Forge near Akron Junction. All of the mainline railroads serving Akron crossed over Forge in a two-block area with the Erie being the westernmost of them.

Today the former Erie bridge is silent. As best I can tell from looking at an overhead view on Bing Maps, there may be one set of tracks on the bridge, but otherwise the rails have been removed.

There’s a Reason For This Square Shape

December 14, 2016

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If this utility line structure looks a little odd, there is a reason for that.

It was designed to straddle a railroad track holding hopper cars of coal that had been delivered to a nearby power plant. The spur came off the Pennsylvania Railroad, crossed Front Street in Akron and then went for a short distance along the Cuyahoga River.

Today that railroad spur and the power plant are gone, but the utility line still stands in the Gorge Metropark straddling the border of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls. The former railroad right of way is a trail in the park.

Many, if not most, people who walk this trail probably don’t know why this support structure is shaped as it is. I might not have known either if Roger Durfee had not explained it to me.

Article and Photograph by Craig Sanders