Monday, July 12, 2010

How do you help plan a $400 million train? Booze!

This was one story I was particularly bummed about missing late last week while I was out of town.

It seems one of the individuals Ted Strickland's administration put in charge of planning the $400 million 3-C rail project fits the Strickland Political Appointee profile to a tee.

  1. She's a drunk.
  2. She enjoys a little driver's license funny business.
  3. And she doesn't mind abusing her position for personal gain.
From the Dispatch:

One of Ohio's top transportation planners was stripped of her position this morning amid an investigation into whether she improperly tried to obtain a replacement driver's license after hers was seized during a drunken-driving arrest.

Mandy K. Bishop was removed from her position as an Ohio Department of Transportation deputy director in charge of planning.

She remains on the state's payroll pending a State Highway Patrol investigation into whether she used her position to get a replacement license from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles after she was cited on two misdemeanor drunken-driving counts in June.

Bishop was paid $101,296 last year.

I guess without that driver's license, she actually could be one of the few that would benefit from the 3-C, eh?

But this mess could also explain why planning for the train has already been the boondoggle so many thought it was going to be.

Some 10 weeks after lawmakers approved a $25 million study of passenger rail service linking Ohio's largest cities, the state has yet to ink a contract with the firm picked to do the study, raising fresh questions about the 2011 goal for getting the trains running.

Meanwhile, Brent Larkin over at the Plain Dealer absolutely demolishes the 3-C plan based on new information about the contractor put in charge and the claim that the current tracks will eventually be able to handle true high-speed rail.

...contrary to repeated claims from ODOT officials that existing tracks can be eventually upgraded to accommodate speeds of up to 110 mph, evidence mounts that medium-speed rail will require spending billions on entirely new tracks. In late May, CSX Transportation and federal rail officials reached an agreement that new track would be needed to carry passengers at speeds of 110 mph on a line linking Buffalo to Schenectady, N.Y. CSX also owns most of the track and right of way that would be used for passenger rail service in Ohio.

If and when Ohio's passenger rail service begins, a trip from Cleveland to Cincinnati will take nearly seven hours.

A 1935 schedule of passenger service on the New York Central shows a daily train departing Cincinnati at 12:25 p.m. and arriving in downtown Cleveland at 5:45 p.m.

Do the math. Then explain to me how this is progress.

This is your Governor's ideal pet project, Ohio.

This is what you voted for four years ago.

Think it's time for a change?

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