Ohio has plenty of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package left to spend in 2010, but it's the big prize that hangs in the balance: the prospects of landing funds for a marquee train project.79-mph? Ha!
For now, the state, will give rebates to people who buy new, energy-efficient appliances; it will begin work on a massive new bridge for downtown Cleveland; and it plans to finish high-profile projects to improve drinking water in rural areas.
Still up for grabs is $8 billion in stimulus money that Obama has set aside for high-speed passenger rail projects. By late January, the Federal Rail Administration will decide if Ohio gets $564 million for a 79-mph, startup train service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.
Unfortunately, the Dispatch fails to remind us that the average MPH for the Ohio Choo-Choo Express will be a mindnumbingly slow 39mph. That means a trip from Cincy to Columbus would take nearly three and a half hours.
I can't stress how badly I want Ohio to lose this stimulus grant.
With excruciatingly long travel times combined with a total and complete lack of demand from commuters, this is one government-run project that will be doomed to yearly bailouts - and that money will come straight from the Ohio taxpayer.
With the potential for a $9 billion shortfall in the coming budget, that's another financial smackdown that the state can't handle.
Fortunately, legit rail studies like that done by pro-rail urban planning group America 2050 surmised that the Cincy-Columbus-Cleveland connection should be far down in priority.
So unless the President wants to make sure Strickland gets another treat in his federal goodie bag, Ohio should come up losers.
Which makes everyone winners.
By the way, with "plenty of President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package left to spend in 2010", I don't think "stimulus" means what the President thinks it means.