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

NEW YORK - JULY 2: Commuters and travelers wait for their trains in Penn Station July 2, 2004 in New York City. AAA estimates that 39.4 millions Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this July 4 holiday weekend. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - JULY 2: Commuters and travelers wait for their trains in Penn Station July 2, 2004 in New York City. AAA estimates that 39.4 millions Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this July 4 holiday weekend. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

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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.

ExploreAmtrak proposal could expand passenger routes through southwest Ohio

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.

ExploreStu Nicholson: 35 years after Dayton Union Station met the bulldozer, we need trains to connect people and businesses in Ohio

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.

State Senator Niraj Antani ( R-Miamisburg) represents the 6th District of Ohio. . CONTRIBUTED.
State Senator Niraj Antani ( R-Miamisburg) represents the 6th District of Ohio. . CONTRIBUTED.

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.

ExploreProposed Amtrak route expansion could spur business, help environment in southwest Ohio

However, we need to approach this proposal with caution.

9th January 1960:  The American General and 34th President of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower (1890 - 1969), giving his State of the Union address at the US Congress in Washington.  Behind him, on the left, is Vice-President Richard Nixon, and Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House.  (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
9th January 1960: The American General and 34th President of the United States, Dwight D Eisenhower (1890 - 1969), giving his State of the Union address at the US Congress in Washington. Behind him, on the left, is Vice-President Richard Nixon, and Sam Rayburn, the Speaker of the House. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

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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