Passenger Rail to expand in Ohio
December 5, 2023
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has approved funding to begin planning for new and expanded passenger rail development across Ohio.
FRA announced that Ohio will receive $500,000 in planning funds from the federal Corridor ID program to develop four routes, including a new Detroit-Toledo-Cleveland corridor.
Congressional representatives were notified of the plan this week in advance of an official announcement by FRA, according to The Blade.
The grant covers initial project scoping and does not require matching funds. The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) will study what improvements are needed for the existing Toledo to Cleveland route and to consider adding a new route connecting Detroit to Toledo. Additional routes approved for study include one linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati, and another connecting Chicago and Pittsburgh that would run through Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Lima, Kenton, and Columbus in Ohio. Another proposal by Amtrak would improve and expand the existing Cardinal route through Cincinnati.
This is significant news for northwest Ohio because it sets up Toledo as a passenger rail hub with existing connections to Cleveland and Chicago, and a possible new connection to Detroit, which connects to Ann Arbor and other Michigan cities. A connection from Detroit to Canada is a future possibility and could lead to future rail connections with Toledo.
These grant awards are an important first step to connecting Ohio cities and to connect Ohio to an efficient nationwide passenger rail system. TMACOG will work with the ORDC, Amtrak, and our regional and statewide partners to support the development of these corridors.
A prior study of the potential for a Toledo-Detroit passenger rail connection, commissioned by TMACOG and the City of Toledo in 2019, helped pave the way for future development.
The economies of Toledo and Detroit are intertwined by many industries, and a rail link would connect employees, businesses, entertainment and sports venues, as well as families. ORDC’s application was strongly supported by TMACOG, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), along with elected officials and communities at every level across the region.
If the initial study shows promise, the ORDC can move to the next step of creating a Service Development Plan for the corridor, which includes details on route options, engineering, ridership forecasting, and financial planning. Because most of the Detroit to Toledo connection would be in Michigan, the ORDC will work closely with the Michigan Department of Transportation for corridor development.