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Ohio Rail Commission Moves Forward In Bid For Stimulus Dollars

Efforts to bring passenger rail service back to Ohio took a step forward Thursday. The Ohio Rail Development Commission is looking for $400 million in federal stimulus money.

Rail Development commissioners voted to move the passenger rail application process to its final stage. They'll ask the Federal Rail Commission for as much as $400 million for the so-called 3C project: a passenger train service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. Ohio Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Varner says the application must be filed by October 2nd.

"We're in the process of finding the safest most efficient and cost effective route for this service," Varner says. "We will have a very strong application that we will submit to Washington. If we receive funding you could see these passenger trains running by as early as 2011."

Ohio faces stiff competition from other states who all want a part of the eight billion federal dollars set aside for rail projects. The Rail Commission also agreed to support a private company's bid to build diesel powered passenger trains in Gahanna. Helped by federal and state aid, U.S. Railcar LLC says it intends to build a $14 million factory that would employ about 160 people.