Monday, December 7, 2009

State rail agencies studying development around six 'Quick Start' stations

The initial six proposed stops for Ohio's "Quick Start" passenger rail service could become booming transportation and activity hubs, according to the Ohio Rail Development Coalition (ORDC) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Planners for both agencies have been studying the growth of multi-modal transit centers and transit-oriented development around stops on existing passenger rail lines.

At one such stop, along the three-year-old, 97-mile long New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Bernalillo County commissioners have approved plans to transform Albuquerque's International Sunport station area into a mixed-use district offering employment and retail opportunities, housing, and other community amenities.

And in Maine, a plan has emerged for a $100 million private redevelopment of a former textile mill adjacent to the newly-opened $2.5 million Saco transportation center, which serves as a station stop for the Amtrak Downeaster.

"When we see the kind of development of stations and the core areas around them in places like Albuquerque and Saco, Maine, it gives us confidence we will see a revival of core urban and town centers where trains will stop along the 3C Corridor," said ORDC executive director Matt Dietrich.

While awaiting word on $564 million in federal stimulus funds for "Quick Start", representatives from ORDC and ODOT have been meeting with leaders from the cities of Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Sharonville to discuss future development around their stations.

If the stimulus funding is approved, trains could be running by the first quarter of 2010.

The rail service, which would travel at 79 mph along existing rail lines, is seen as key to building the Ohio Hub high-speed rail network throughout the state, connected to other networks throughout the Midwest, East Coast, and southern Canada.

Bernalillo County/International Sunport Station area rendering courtesy of the New Mexico Rail Runner Express.

Previous reading on BC:
State rail group recommends DMUs for 3C 'Quick Start' (12/2/09)
State, county organizations support passenger rail (10/5/09)
Report: 3C 'Quick Start' could save Ohioans $36M per year, pay off in five years (9/29/09)
Caution, communication needed in 3C Corridor choices (8/6/09)
Cincinnati EDC to consider support for Ohio passenger rail service (2/23/09)