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That’s the sound of 95% of Ohio’s Interstate 71 during rush hour.

Don’t believe me? Here are photo captures from the state’s traffic cameras along I-71 at 8:30am this morning. The top being I-71 at Polaris in north Columbus, the 2nd being I-71 and 270 in south Columbus, and the bottom being I-71 and Kings Mills in Cincinnati. There aren’t any on I-71 heading towards Cleveland because….well, because who wants to stare at an empty road?

Why? As you can see, there is no traffic. While I-71 is an important artery in Ohio, it isn’t exactly the busiest of roads. People can get back and forth with relative ease with the biggest challenge being not speeding on open areas of flat highway.

So let’s build a $400 million train network that goes from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincy.

That’s Gov. Strickland’s brilliant plan.

Gov. Ted Strickland is in Washington today to lobby the Obama administration for $400 million in federal stimulus money to build the proposed high-speed passenger rail service between Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. “Ohio and those cities represent the most densely populated part of the country that is devoid of passenger rail service,” Strickland said, calling that fact “intolerable.”

Yeah, after looking at those highways in bumper to bumper traffic, Ted, I can just feel the commuter rage burning within each voter.

The fact is, commuter rail will not work in Ohio. Let’s use NYC as an example of what can happen.

Metro-North runs the commuter rail system from the northern suburbs of NYC into Grand Central. Those trains are packed every morning and every evening. They run trains from dozens of stations on several lines, multiple times per hour for several hours. This happens every morning and every evening.

Most of those people pay $200-250 per month to ride those trains on a monthly commuter pass.

It’s clearly a total home run, as far as mass transit goes.

But thanks to maintenance, unionized conductors and crews, and all sorts of previously unconsidered costs, the system is practically bankrupt.

And doing it in Ohio on a sparsely traveled route is just moronic.

So now we know it won’t make money. We know the stimulus dollars won’t keep coming to pay for it. And we know Ohio taxpayers will end up footing an enormous bill to keep it running.

So why does Ted feel the need to bring rail to Ohio?

Pure politics.

The Governor knows he’s done nothing. He feels like he needs to show voters that he can bring the gravy to Ohio in the form of a massive project such as this.

But for those who actually are in favor of the stimulus, shouldn’t they at least be asking why $400 million of our total allotment is going to a system that can’t and won’t work? I’d imagine there are plenty of other programs that stimulus supporters in Ohio would deem more worthy than this boondoggle.

Of course, when has common sense ever worked for Governor Strickland?

h/t: The Seaward

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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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