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Rail News: Passenger Rail

Cincinnati passenger-rail plan advances with funding, preferred alignment decisions


Cincinnati-area passenger-rail proponents got a boost last week with the announcement of two approvals that will help set the stage for the introduction of an operational passenger-rail system as early as 2016.

The Oasis Rail Transit project, a key element of the Eastern Corridor program, was awarded $200,000 in funding from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to help secure right of way for the rail line's connection between the Boathouse and Riverfront Transit Center, a section locals refer to as "the missing link" of the project.

In addition, the Cincinnati Board of Park Commissioners unanimously agreed on a preferred track alignment for the link through the northern edge of the Bicentennial Commons/Sawyer Point parking lot. Both actions pave the way for a two-county, 17-jurisdiction passenger-rail system to be constructed and completed over the next several years, Eastern Corridor Implementation Partners announced in a prepared statement.

The approvals are "historic," according to Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune, who chairs the Transportation Improvement District that's spearheading the project.

"This is the only passenger-rail project in the state supported by ODOT," Portune said. "Getting ODOT funding and Park Board approval to support the track extension into downtown Cincinnati sets the stage for final engineering and construction. It confirms to federal authorities that the Eastern Corridor's Oasis Rail Transit line is a go."