Introduction (Under Construction as of 10-31-2005)
The State of Ohio was once host to thousands of miles of east-west and north-south main line intercity, regional, and local branch line railways, interurban, and trolley lines, which played an integral part in the State's and our Nation's development. Since circa 1920, private railroad carriers, which have traditionally provided their own rail networks, have embarked upon policies that have severely impacted the State's production economy and passenger rail service. Considering their right-of-way to be real estate and appurtenances to be capital vs. public way transportation utilities, these companies have threatened and implemented consolidation, downgrading, rationalization, and liquidation of unwanted, extraneous, and redundant line routes and infrastructure, often leaving enterprises and passengers with limited or no competitive service or rail network access.
The U.S. Railway Administration in particular, with its reorganization of bankrupt Penn Central Transportation Co. into the Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail), arbitrarily decided which PCTC rail segments to keep, sell to smaller carriers, or abandon, with wanton disregard to numerous local Ohio socioeconomies. Their apparent thinking was affected enterprises would simply utilize trucks, move to other areas better served by rail, or fend for themselves minus rail service. USRA did not imagine that enterprises would cease business entirely or move their production operations overseas. Its decisions in 1975 now greatly hinder this country's attempts to compete in a global economy against other countries that socialistically subsidize their production and transportation sectors.
Government agencies at all levels have yet to offer effective policy toward rail transportation other than monopoly deregulation, income and property tax breaks and abatements, trackage rights fees, and public line ownership, none of which are sufficient to assist usually marginal short line and regional railroad companies offset their immense costs to:
The Ohio Department of Transportation, while owning and administering highways and roads for open access and competitive trucking and passenger service, unfortunately dismisses opportunities to administer unwanted rail lines in a similar method. The Ohio Rail Development Commission (an independent agency of ODOT), port authorities, counties, municipalities, community development corporations, and private industry cooperatives throughout Ohio have only acted to financially assist railroad companies with grants and low-interest loans, save rail lines that can demonstrate potential return on investment, and preserve minimal rail transportation to retain and expand area economic development. Usually these government agencies assign exclusive franchises to individual railroad companies to provide carrier service on the line, though permit third party carriers rail network access through "trackage rights" agreements at higher rates. (A related U.S. Supreme Court case has ruled telecommunication carriers need not grant mandated third party access to their telecommunication networks, as Congress had mandated in the 1996 Telecommunications Act.)
As with other monopolized transportation and telecommunication infrastructures, government agencies also have yet to offer effective policy other than cyclic deregulation and re-regulation, income and property tax breaks and abatements, forced access, and anti-competitive Socialistic public ownership and carriage, none of which are sufficient to provide assistance for enterprises to remain, develop, and compete successfully in the global economy.
The academic and grassroots effort that proposes the Ohio Multimodalway Department recognizes the need to access and interconnect local and regional infrastructures to high speed, high capacity intercity infrastructures to better serve those socioeconomies, thus is also proposing new multi-county port authorities throughout regions of the State modeled after the Ohio Multimodalway Commission to acquire and administer local and regional endangered and abandoned infrastructures to extend service to locales lacking competitive rail service and utilities.
An academic and grassroots effort, which originally spearheaded the abandonment and privatization fights, now opposes ORDC privatizing the Line, and instead proposes the State of Ohio create the "Ohio Multimodalway Commission".
As its Project #1 (code-named the "Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Multimodalway", or in short the "Panhandle Multimodalway" to reflect the historic name and nickname of its previous private railroad owner and the routes it once offered intercity main line service to) the Department would assume the Line's ownership and administer the rail line with a hybrid business model of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and major airports, with any and all qualified common carriers, enterprises, and end users welcome to use the Line on an equal and competitive basis, excluding the Commission and government agencies from competitive carrying. The Multimodalway would also be able to provide and administer safe and securely separated rights-of-way and infrastructures on the railway's and future adjacent ROWs as Public Ways for multiple modes and uses of transportation and telecommunication including but not limited to:
Future multimodalway extensions to Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Chicago to re-connect critical intercity routes are required for the concept's overall long-term success if the segment project is deemed successful. The Ohio Turnpike Commission's business model has been verified as closed-loop with little or no subsidization from state or federal governments by the Turnpike's CFO/Comptroller James Steiner and the Turnpike's auditors Deloitte & Touche. Our hypothesis is the other infrastructures converted and administered as similar OTC/airport-like models would be equally as successful, and those "natural utility" infrastructures (such as trails, water & sewer) would be better cross-subsidized with combined administrations of multiple infrastructures in the same corridor, vs. remaining independent efforts with their own responsibilities.
Both the intercity and regional proposals address further rollout of competitive backbone/wholesale speed Internet, dark fiber, and wireless telecommunications between major cities, yet easily accessible in rural areas utilizing adjacent ROWs and Network Access Point shared facilities. Once intercity backbone and dark fiber main lines and branches are provided locally, municipalities and townships would then be able to complete last mile connectivity with conduit and fiber-to-the-curb Internet Protocol-only Metropolitan Area Network designed to let all participating Internet Service Providers provide signal (but not infrastructure) to all participating end users. Discrete government enterprises would provide infrastructure but not signal to comply with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision permitting states to bar municipalities from competing against private sector telecommunication providers. The same government agencies could establish radio towers for access by all wireless providers, who could connect directly into the backbone lines thus disintermediating Local Exchange Carriers.
The telecommunications goals of the Multimodalways are:
Direct intercity (Pittsburgh-Columbus non-locally accessible) interconnectivity-
Locally accessible intercity interconnectivity-
Adjacent landowner access-
The goals for telecommunication service provided to end users include:
Note- Japan is already offering 100Mb/s for $40/mo - http://www.linspire.com/lindows_michaelsminutes_archives.php?id=74
The Multimodalways proposals would address energy, fluid, semi-solid, and pneumatic infrastructures by providing ROW, pipeline infrastructures, and shared facilities tocarriers, enterprises, and end user producers. Government agency infrastructure provision would help-
The Alaska Gasline Port Authority is a similar project where a government agency will provide infrastructure (see the AGPA Archives) for more information.
Panhandle Rail Line Anti-Abandonment Project Archives
Ohio Turnpike Commission Archives
Back to About the Multimodalways Project
of this page; updated 10-31-2005