Posts Tagged ‘Ohio Rail Development Commission’

Amtrak Expansion in Ohio Remains Uncertain

May 21, 2022

Whether Ohio seeks federal funding to develop new Amtrak services in the state may hinge in part on who wins this year’s governor’s race.

Democrat Nan Whaley has said she would seek the funding to create the service while incumbent Republican Mike DeWine has been noncommittal although he did order the Ohio Rail Development Commission to conduct a study of Amtrak’s proposals to launch new service in Ohio.

Through its Amtrak Connects US plan, the passenger carrier has proposed developing service between Cleveland and Cincinnati via Columbus and Dayton.

Amtrak would also create service between Cleveland and Detroit, boost service between Cleveland and New York City, and between Cincinnati and Chicago.

Amtrak has proposed fronting the money to develop routes and pay at least some of the operating expenses not covered by ticket revenue for up to five years.

After five years, the state would be expected to pick up the costs of the routes.

A story published by The Plain Dealer quoted Ohio Senate president Matt Huffman (R-Lima) as expressing doubt that intercity passenger trains are needed in Ohio.

He said it might make sense to have trains in large, dense cities such as New York, but said there’s a question about whether enough Ohioans would prefer to travel via a train instead of by car.

“I’m not enthusiastic about it,” Huffman said of the Amtrak expansion proposal. “It’s kind of fun to talk about, but until someone can figure out why it’s better than taking a car, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) said when asked about the Amtrak proposals, “At this point, I don’t have any thoughts.”

DeWine said he has an open mind about passenger train development in Ohio and noted he and his family have traveled on Amtrak to go on camping trips in the West.

He added that he wants to see the results of the ORDC studies before taking a position on seeking federal funding for development of Amtrak routes.

More than a decade ago, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded Ohio $400 million to develop the Cleveland-Cincinnati route.

But after being elected governor in 2010 John Kasich returned that money to the federal government and plans to develop the 3-C corridor collapsed.

There have been no serious efforts to develop the corridor or any other intercity rail passenger route in Ohio since then.

The funding Amtrak plans to use to develop new routes comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act approved by Congress last year.

However, the $66 billion in the IIJA that was dedicated toward passenger rail is not enough to fund development of all of the routes shown in the Amtrak Connects US plan.

The route development funding is being funded through the FRA, which earlier this month released guidelines for those interested in seeking funding to develop routes.

The FRA is not expected to begin accepting proposals until this fall.

The ORDC study is expected to take eight months, although an ORDC spokeswoman told The Plain Dealer it is not clear how long the study will take because it is in “the very, very early stages.”

DeWine’s mandate to the ORDC was to determine the feasibility and cost of expanding passenger rail service in Ohio.

During a meeting with news reporters this week, DeWine did say that if the ORDC finds the 250-mile Cleveland-Cincinnati route would run at an average speed of 39 miles per hour, “that’s just not going to work.”

The 39 mph average speed figure came from the 2010 proposal. In its Amtrak Connects US plan, Amtrak said it envisioned three day roundtrips between Cleveland and Cincinnati with a running time of 5.2 hours.

In a statement, Whaley, a former mayor of Dayton, said she has been a long-time supporter of the Cleveland-Cincinnati route and pledged that if elected to “use the full power of her administration to make these proposed routes a reality.”

Earlier, 11 Ohio House Democrats and one House Republican introduced a resolution in support of expanding Amtrak service in Ohio, but it has yet to receive a hearing or a vote in the House.

In a related development, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Columbus Partnership announced support of the development of the Cleveland-Cincinnati route.

MORPC executive director William Murdock said Columbus is one of the largest regions in the country without access to a rail system.

“What we’re proposing is multiple trips a day from Columbus to Cleveland, Columbus to Dayton and Cincinnati,” Murdock said. “And we’re even investigating lines from Columbus to Pittsburgh and Columbus to Chicago.”

Amtrak has three routes in Ohio with stations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Sandusky, Elyria, Toledo, Bryan and Alliance.

All three routes link Chicago with cities on the East Coast, including Boston, New York and Washington.

The Chicago-New York route via Cincinnati operates tri-weekly while the other two routes operate or soon will operate daily.

ORDC Will Study Development of Amtrak Routes

May 18, 2022

The Ohio Rail Development Commission will talk with Amtrak about the feasibility and costs of establishing the routes specified in the passenger carrier’s Amtrak Connects US proposal.

Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the action, which is his first indication that the state is willing to at least consider development of the routes.

Amtrak has proposed establishing service between Cleveland and Cincinnati via Columbus and Dayton.

It also would connect Cincinnati and Chicago and add service between Cleveland and Detroit and New York City; and extend the route of the New York-Pittsburgh Pennsylvanian to Cleveland.

The governor’s spokesman, Dan Tierney, said in a statement that the feasibility determination is still in process.

Speaking on Tuesday, Tierney told reporters that previous administrations had determined these routes to be unfeasible.

“An updated feasibility determination is wise before proceeding with significant public expenditures of this nature,” he said.

Stu Nicholson, executive director of passenger rail advocacy group All Aboard Ohio, said the group is “cautiously optimistic” about DeWine’s request.

“We’re also, at the same time, grateful to the governor for taking this step,” Nicholson said.

The ORDC study would be a first step in a long process. Although Amtrak has said it would help states fund route development and provide operating support for up to five years, the passenger carrier also expects states to eventually cover all operating losses.

Ohio has never funded Amtrak service although in 1971 is approved its share of paying for the short-lived Chicago-New York Lake Shore, a service that was discontinued in January 1972 because the states served declined to help fund it.

In 2010 newly-elected Ohio Gov. John Kasich returned to the federal government a grant that was to have been used to establish the Cleveland-Cincinnati route.

Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner had said last year that developing the Cleveland-Cincinnati route would cost approximately $100 billion.

The Amtrak Connects US proposal projects that three daily roundtrips on the route would carry an estimated 400,000 to 500,000 passengers annually.

DeWine’s directive to the ORDC comes a week after the Federal Railroad Administration published its guidelines for a corridor development program created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The FRA plans to solicit proposals for corridor development later this year.

The Ohio study is expected to take between eight months and a year to complete.

Nicholson said he expects the study to show why passenger rail will work in Ohio, the need for such a system, its environmental impacts and what needs to be done to the rail corridor to make it usable by faster, more frequent trains.

“I think Amtrak’s plan is frankly an even better plan in a lot of respects because it really opens up more of the state, not just the 3C+D,” he said. “You’re looking at being able to create mini-hubs for Amtrak … as well as restoring service to the most heavily traveled and densely populated corridor in the state.”

ORDC Awarding Grants for Rail Projects

May 14, 2022

The Ohio Rail Development Commission this week announced it is awarding five grants totaling $2 million for rail development projects.

The Indiana & Ohio will receive $614,456 to rehabilitate its Midland Subdivision. The work will involve installing a crossover near Oakley Yard in Cincinnati and making improvements to Midland Yard in Clinton County.

The Oakley Yard project involves installing a crossover to be used to pick up staged cars on the mainline without moving the entire consist.

At Midland the work involves removing out-of-service tracks and switches and replacing them with new tracks and switches. The short line is matching the grant dollar-for-dollar for a total of $1,228,912.

The Ashland Railway will receive $613,898 to rebuild and replace five turnouts. Other work includes tie replacement, ballast installation and surfacing work. The Ashland is matching the grant dollar-for-dollar for a total investment of $1,227,796.

P&G Manufacturing will get $400,000 to expand its Bath Township manufacturing facility where it plans to invest more than $500 million and hire 135 new employees after the project is completed. P&G is a customer of the Chicago, Fort Wayne & Eastern Railroad and needs additional on-site rail infrastructure to serve the new facility, ORDC officials said.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie will receive $250,000 for a project to rehabilitate a swing bridge over the Maumee River in Toledo.

The 19th-century bridge’s mechanical system has outlived its useful life and railroad officials said it would become unusable if the end lift and braking systems are not upgraded.

The W&LE is matching the grant dollar-for-dollar for a total investment of $500,000.

Behr Process Corporation will receive $100,000 to improve on-site rail infrastructure ahead of a new 50-acre planned facility in Heath.

ORDC officials said the new facility comprises an investment of $80 million and the creation of 90 new jobs over the next three years for the manufacturing and distribution of paint products. The rail infrastructure is currently not in the proper condition to service the facility, ORDC officials said.

Behr is a subsidiary of Masco Corp. and is one of the largest North American manufacturers of paints, primers, stains and other surface products.

ORHS Awards 2 Grants for Rail Infrastructure

March 11, 2022

Two grants have been awarded by the Ohio Rail Development Commission to pay in part for expansion of rail infrastructure.

Tessenderlo Kerley received a $75,000 grant while Cincinnati Bulk Terminals relieved a $50,000 grant.

A ORDC news release said TKI plans to invest $40 million in rail infrastructure at a new facility in Defiance over the next three years.

The plant, which is expected to be fully operational in the first quarter of 2024, produces chemical products for agricultural and industrial use.

In Defiance, TKI will produce liquid sulfur-based crop nutrition brands Thio-Sul, KTS and K-row 23, as well as sulfite chemicals for industrial markets.

CBT plans to expand its rail infrastructure to improve shipping and receiving flexibility with its serving railroad, Central Railroad of Indiana.

Work will include adding two switches, ballast and track to enable CBT and CIND to handle at least 17 additional rail cars on site.

When completed, the expansion will help reduce the number of times CIND travels to and from the CSX Queensgate Yard in Cincinnati.

The news release described CBT as an all-purpose inland marine terminal that transports bulk and breakbulk products, moving more than 3,000 carloads per year across western Ohio.

I&O Gets Grant for Track Rehabiliation

January 22, 2022

The Indiana & Ohio Railway will receive a $525,768 grant from the Ohio Rail Development Commission to improve a siding in western Ohio.

The siding is located in Tremont City and the work also includes replacing switches at each end of the siding.

IORY will provide $283,106 in matching funds to bring the project investment to $808,974.

In a news release, ORDC said the project will reduce the time need for trains to enter and exit the siding, which now has manual switches. The process of moving in and out of the siding, which includes returning the switches to their original positions, can take up to a half hour. The new switches will be electronic.

ORDC also announced that it has awarded a $100,000 grant to Nova Tube & Steel for track rebuilding.

The $1.8 million project being undertaken near Delta is part of a $105 million new facility that will expand the Canadian company’s Midwest operations serving the automotive, rail, agriculture and construction industries.

APackaging Group will receive a $100,000 ORDC grant to build rail infrastructure at a 80,000-square foot plant under construction in Defiance.

A maker of customized packaging products for the cosmetics and skincare industries, APackaging  is building its first U.S. manufacturing facility.

Ohio Short Line Gets ORDC Grant for Track Work

November 20, 2021

The Napoleon Defiance & Western will receive a grant of $687,623 from the Ohio Rail Development Commission to be used for rail replacement.

The track to be replaced is located east of Defiance, where the short line owned by Pioneer Lines interchanges with CSX and Norfolk Southern.

In announcing the grant the ORDC noted that derailments on the 45-mile line that operates between Napolean and Woodburn, Indiana, have been frequent due to years of deferred maintenance.

The track work is expected to enable longer trains carrying heavy loaded rail cars.

The work will involve replacing and resurfacing three miles of track with 112-pound rail. Workers will also install tie plates and joint bars salvaged from another Pioneer-owned railroad in another state.

W&LE Receives State Grant to Improve Bridge

September 17, 2021

The Ohio Rail Development Commission has approved a $125,000 grant to the Wheeling & Lake Erie for bridge work in Tuscarawas County.

The project involves improving the clearance of a railroad bridge over a Ohio Route 212 near Bolivar.

The railroad owns the bridge and maintains it. The ORDC grant will be matched by the

Ohio Department of Transportation for a combined state funding share of $250,000.

The project cost is estimated at $503,320. Officials said the bridge to be rebuilt has been struck by vehicular traffic at least 20 times over the past 17 years, including this past June.

“The resolution of this long-running clearance concern will result in a safer experience for the motoring public, as well as enhanced safety for trains on this crucial corridor,” said Mark Svetlich, W&LE’s vice president of engineering.

In other news, the ORDC also approved a grant of up to $91,440 to CASTLO Community Improvement to rehabilitate and paint a railroad bridge in its industrial park in Struthers. CASTLO’s share of the cost is $91,440. The scope of the $182,880 project involves structural steel repairs, painting and related bridge improvements.

2 NEO Projects Get ORDC Grants

May 14, 2021

Two Northeast Ohio projects have been awarded grants by the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

The Cleveland & Cuyahoga Railway will receive $1,564,051 to help pay for rehabilitation of its Mahoning Subdivision.

The $1.9 million project will replace 8,178 crossties, install 7,501 tons of ballast, and conduct nearly 90,000 track feet of surfacing, rail replacement and ancillary work on the main and side tracks over 12 miles.

C&CR operates about 35 miles of track on its Glenwillow Subdivision, which runs from Cleveland to Glenwillow, and its Mahoning Subdivision, which runs from Cleveland to Solon.

The city of Medina will receive $249,600 to improve its rail line and replace a deteriorated grade-crossing surface. 

The work includes grading, drainage improvements, tie replacement and ballast installation to remediate a low spot in the track. The project also involves the replacement of an adjacent grade crossing surface.

The city will pay $62,400 of the $312,000 project cost.

The Cincinnati Eastern Railroad will receive $150,000 to help pay for construction of a 1,100-foot connecting track for a new Nestle Purina PetCare facility in Batavia. 

The track is the last piece of rail infrastructure needed to link CCET with the Purina facility. The project is estimated to cost  $910,000.

ORDC Awards Grants for Rail Service

March 14, 2021

Three Ohio industrial facilities have received a collective $1.13 million from the Ohio Rail Development Commission that will enable them to obtain rail service.

In a news release, ORDC said it awarded a $75,000 grant to Trucent Renewable Chemicals to establish rail service at a new $10 million facility to be constructed in Van Wert.

The new plant will be part of Trucent’s renewable chemicals group, which concentrates on whole cut and distilled fatty acids derived from vegetable oils.

NGL Supply Company, doing business as Sycamore Terminal Company, received a $50,000 grant and a $500,000 loan to install rail infrastructure at its new transfer facility near Sycamore.

The facility will be served by the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

In addition, the ORDC approved a $500,000 loan for Mountaineer Products, doing business as MPR Supply Chain Solutions, to expand operations in Bellaire to include rail service.

The planned facility, which will be served by the W&LE, will include rail-truck-river barge transload capabilities.

As part of the project, rail will be installed off a W&LE line to hold a unit train for transloading fertilizer, polyethylene, steel, salt, friction reducer, pipe, sand and other commodities.

ORDC said Mountaineer Products might build a track later to connect with a nearby Norfolk Southern line.

ORDC Gives Grants to 4 Rail Projects

January 23, 2021

The Ohio Rail Development Commission has awarded $642,890 in grants to four rail-related projects.

Ohio South Central Railroad will receive $367,890 to rebuild the AluChem lead on the line in Jackson to improve rail efficiency and safety.

The project involves replacing 2,540 ties, switch refurbishment, tie deck replacement on four bridges and rail replacement. OSCR plans to invest over $244,000 in the more than $600,000 project.

Versa-Pak will receive $125,000 for for the expansion of on-site rail infrastructure at its facility in Celina to improve rail capacity and rail yard fluidity.

M&M Industries, a plastic pail manufacturer, will receive $100,000 to add a rail spur at its Lordstown facility.

Freepoint Commodities will receive $50,000 to installing a rail spur at a facility in Obetz.

The building will be the new site of a plastics-to-fuel operation, where Freepoint will recycle plastics into synthetic oil.