High-Speed Rail Study Begins - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

High-Speed Rail Study Begins

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A high-speed rail system could be coming to the area. That’s the plan announced Friday morning at the Ambassador Banquet and Conference Center by All-Aboard Erie, the group funding a feasibility study that will guide developers looking to construct a Cleveland to Buffalo rail system with a stop in Erie.

“There is an ambition to build a whole of a network for the Northeast that would include connections to the Midwest and everywhere else, so this is sort of the missing link,” said Alexander Metcalf, Ph. D., the president of Transportation Economics and Managements Systems.

The six-month, $100,000 study would look at where a rail line could be developed in the Erie area.  The rail line would connect the Northeast to the Midwest, including the Ohio Hub, which Metcalf helped create. He says adding a stop in Erie helps connect major U.S. cities.

“One of the reasons for building it is it gives us the ability to take a train from New York to Chicago or the Twin Cities by basically traveling the network,” he said.

Because of the project’s cost and the increasing demand for high-speed rail in the region, Metcalf says the need for a public-private partnership is critical.

“It’s getting increasingly difficult for the U.S. D.O.T. (United States Department of Transportation) to raise the kind of money that’s needed for major infrastructure investments, so public-private partnerships can help with that,” he said.

"Part of our role would be to advocate for seeing this type of development going forward, and then to work on both the state and federal level to see how sources could be gathered to make this happen," said Kathy Dahlkemper, Erie County Executive.

Both Metcalf and officials from All Aboard Erie say that despite the undertaking of the study, it could be years before a passenger train runs through the area.

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