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Plain Dealer: Good riddance to the Strickland Slow Speed Rail

Guest Posted by Bytor

Ted Strickland is still bitter over his firing, and still whining about incoming Governor John Kasich’s decision to cancel the 3C rail project.

Most of us here at 3BP cheered the decision.

Well, the Plain Dealer agrees.

Critics, including Strickland, have depicted Kasich’s decision as a jobs-killer. Actually, proceeding with this boondoggle would have caused far more economic pain. Over time, the train project would have blown such a gigantic hole in the state budget it would have adversely impacted state spending for schools, children, the poor, the aged and the ill.

Voters never warmed to the idea of spending hundreds of millions on a passenger rail project that would have taken riders from Cleveland to Cincinnati over a period an hour and 15 minutes longer than it would have taken on a New York Central train in 1935. A Columbus Dispatch poll in September showed that far more Ohioans opposed the train plan than supported it.

For one, we suspected that the cost figures were probably low, and that the $400 billion federal grant wouldn’t cover it. The Strickland administration insisted it would. But that contradicted their own estimates from months earlier.

When the Obama administration offered Ohio $400 million for the rail project, Strickland administration officials essentially said, “Sure, that should cover it.” But just months earlier, as part of the state’s application to the feds, the administration placed the startup cost at $563.7 million.

It gets worse.

A Government Accounting Office study of transportation projects, requested by Congress, concluded in March 2009 that passenger rail projects “had the highest cost escalation out of all the transportation modes studied — averaging 45 percent higher than estimated.”

Put aside the cost concerns, and think about the demand. Seriously, does it take a brilliant mind to determine that NO ONE is going to pay a premium to ride a train between the 3 Cs that is slower than driving?

ODOT’s ridership predictions called for an annual taxpayer subsidy of $17 million over 20 years. But that same GAO report cited a study of 27 rail projects that found ridership forecasts for 90 percent of the projects were overestimated, with 67 percent overestimated by more than two-thirds.

So, 67% of rail projects overestimated ridership by 2/3. That’s a LOT.

Finally, Ted tried to distract us from the obvious shortcomings of this ridiculous project, by chanting JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!! The PD agreed with us on that one, too.

Last month, Strickland said the train plan would have created 16,000 jobs, a figure that doubled the state’s earlier estimates of 8,000 jobs. ODOT’s own website claims 8,000 jobs — and even that figure is wildly inflated. Think about it: Aside from the temporary work to upgrade existing railroad track, how many people does it take to run three or four trains a day up and down the state? A few hundred sounds about right.

Sorry, Ted. Ohioans have spoken. We don’t want this train.

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Third Base Politics is an Ohio-centric conservative blog that has been featured at Hot Air, National Review, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and others.


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