Antani: Amtrak proposal sounds great, but Ohio must do due diligence first

This guest opinion column by State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, appeared on the Ideas and Voices page Sunday, Feb. 7 accompanied by one by Stu Nicholson, executive director of All Aboard Ohio,



When President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, he sparked a new era of interconnectedness in the United States.

He opened up new possibilities for the country and changed business and travel for all Americans. This year, we are faced with a potential opportunity to expand on the former Republican president’s legacy.

I believe Ohio should thoroughly explore the most recent proposal from Amtrak.

“An expanded transportation network will increase Ohio's ability to attract business to the state and better our quality of life,"

- Niraj Antani

Approximately 60% of the United States population lives within 600 miles of Ohio.

Increased transportation provides benefits to the economy and improves the quality of life of Ohioans. Dayton is on the I-70 and 1-75 interchange, making it a hub for logistics and warehousing.

Having a new passenger rail opportunity alongside our network of cars and planes provides more choices to our consumers and industries.

An expanded transportation network will increase Ohio’s ability to attract business to the state and better our quality of life.

As Ohio’s youngest state senator, I know millennials want this project to happen. Keeping millennials living in Ohio is important for keeping Ohio an innovative and prosperous state.

This proposal will help in that endeavor by increasing affordable ways for them to travel to destinations such as Chicago, New York and other coastal cities. Just as Ohioans will be able to visit other cities, the Amtrak proposal will connect residents of other states with Ohio’s unique destinations, attracting more people to the state and stimulating our economy.

However, we need to approach this proposal with caution.

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Any significant investment needs to be carefully thought out. The federal government is trillions of dollars in debt. It is important to note that state funding going to this project could potentially divert funding from our schools, Medicaid, and other resources benefitting our children and people in-need.

While we want to invest in items that better our economy and quality of life, we also want to continue cutting taxes for hardworking Ohioans as we have over the past six years.

Spending state dollars could prevent us from reducing taxes and we need to ensure that doesn’t happen. We need to know exactly how much this would cost Ohio taxpayers before proceeding.

Also, it is crucial that we ensure the project is completed without the use of eminent domain. Commercial land, homes and farms should not be taken from Ohioans for rail travel.

An agreement needs to be reached with property owners if that land will be utilized for the proposed route.

Overall, the proposal from Amtrak provides Ohio with a unique opportunity to connect people and economies.

I know this requires state authorization. With caution in mind, Ohio should do its due diligence in considering this proposal and I look forward to discussion.

State Sen. Niraj Antani, R-Miamisburg, represents the 6th District of Ohio.

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