GRAFTON - The 3-C corridor - the proposed passenger train route between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati - should include a stop in Grafton, according to a communitywide coalition including village officials and Joe Filipiak, chairman of Grafton Railroad Historical Society.
Grafton is easily accessible to major highways and is close to Oberlin College and prisons housing thousands of inmates, Filipiak said.
The Grafton site would be great for a park-and-ride lot because a landowner downtown has fenced-in property near the former station and is open to leasing it, he said.
The only thing that's missing is a station - the old one was demolished in the 1960s "when a freight train decided to run through it and not just past it," Filipiak said.
Grafton officials agreed their village is perfect for a stop, and Council passed a resolution supporting the effort.
Now the big effort to sell the idea begins.
Filipiak, who was accompanied by Grafton Councilman John Lescher, presented the plan to county commissioners Thursday.
"We're within minutes of over 200,000 people in Lorain County," Filipiak said.
He got a somewhat tepid response from County Administrator James Cordes.
Cordes said county officials want a passenger train to stop in Elyria once the
$10 million restoration project involving the old New York Central train depot on East Avenue is complete.
"I'm a little concerned we're going to be competitors," Cordes told Filipiak.
Filipiak replied that Elyria would have a good chance of getting a stop on an east-west train traveling to Toledo and other cities but has little chance of being on the 3-C corridor.
"To bring 3-C to Elyria, you would have to upgrade tracks from Grafton to Elyria and also add 10 minutes of time (to the trip)," he said.
After the meeting, Filipiak said it would cost "mega millions" to straighten out a freight track from Elyria to Grafton.
Other possible stops on the 3-C corridor include Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and Galion.
Although he admits to being a little prejudiced in favor of Grafton, Filipiak said the positives are obvious.
"Grafton is centrally located, we have prisons here, and it's a safe town to park your car in."
The decision on who might get stops on the proposed 3-C corridor will be made in coming months as part of a study that is under way thanks to a $62,500 planning grant from the Federal Railroad Administration to the Ohio Rail Development Corp. The state is matching the grant dollar for dollar.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation are studying which stops should be recommended and ODOT and the Federal Railroad Administration will likely be making the selection, Filipiak said.
He sees all kinds of exciting possibilities, including the use of contemporary self-propelled trains being built by the American Rail Car Co. in Columbus.
"It can be hit by a tractor-trailer in the side, and the passengers in the train could be able to walk away," he said.
The 3-C proposal could be up and running in two years and involve trains traveling up to 79 mph, while the Ohio Hub would likely take longer, Filipiak said.
The Ohio Hub is a proposed system of crisscrossing train lines with speeds of 110-120 mph that would connect Ohio to other states.
TO GET ABOARD
WHAT: The meeting between All-Aboard Ohio and Grafton Railroad Historical Society
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. July 20
WHERE: Community Center off Elm Street or Novak Road on the north side of Grafton.
WHY: To discuss the possibility of a Grafton stop on the proposed 3-C passenger train linking Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Other topics of discussion will include the recent developments in passenger rail and cutbacks in Lorain County Transit.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.