Better Trains for Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin

The Rock and Roll hall of fame is in the foreground, the Cleveland skyline is in the background.

How Trains Could Take the Rock Halland All of Cleveland—to the Next Level

Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced plans this week to move forward in October with a 50,000 square-foot, $135+ million expansion. The project will include new exhibition spaces, a new education center, and a new multipurpose venue. The plan is one part of a broader lakefront makeover “to reduce the relative isolation of North Coast Harbor and the Rock Hall, one of the city’s biggest attractions.” In addition to 100 live music events, the Rock Hall hosted more than 230 events in 2022. The expansion will allow it to host many more. 

All of which is great. It would be even better if the roughly 70 million people living within a 350-mile radius of Cleveland had a fast, easy, and affordable way to get to the Rock Hall. 

As we write here, Cleveland’s location is an incredible competitive advantage, at least potentially. Dozens of big cities and mid-sized communities in the region could be a relatively short train ride away. Yet the Amtrak trains that serve Cleveland arrive and depart in the middle of the night—at a station that sits right next to not only the Rock Hall but the Cleveland Browns’ stadium and the Great Lakes Science Center. 

Obviously, fast, frequent, and affordable trains could take the Rock Hall—and Cleveland tourism in general—to the next level. 

“But in truth, tourism isn’t what good train service is mainly about,” we write. 

“It’s about making Cleveland an all-around better city to work, play, and build a business in.”

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Michigan’s Infrastructure Is in Crisis. Trains Are the Solution.

Michigan’s infrastructure is nearly the worst in the nation, according to a new report. A big reason is “the state’s embrace of suburban ‘sprawl’ style development in an era of marginal population growth. As cities depopulated and suburbs expanded, Michigan residents are now responsible for more infrastructure per person than in previous decades.”

So much state money goes into roads, in other words, that there are too few taxpayers to sustain the sprawl. That’s not only because roads cost a lot to build. They cost a lot to repair and—when congestion makes them unbearable—to expand.

The Alliance is on the case. As we point out here, trains will help Michigan solve both problems at once. They’ll attract more people by building the economy and making the state a better place to live. And they’ll lead to smart, sustainable development by promoting growth in city centers instead of ever-more-distant outskirts.

“Trains deliver,” we write. “They fill our towns and cities with people and small businesses. They align our transportation systems with proven best practices for building communities that work—the kind of places that people put down roots in. When more people live in or visit the heart of our towns and cities, there are more in-person meetings and spontaneous interactions. There’s more economic exchange. More creativity. More life.”

Less sprawl. Strong and sustainable economies. Healthier communities. Maybe it’s time for Michigan to try a new approach to infrastructure?

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The Alliance Talks to Legislators in Wisconsin About Improving Passenger Rail

Wisconsin State Representative Lori Palmeri and her staff arranged a lunchtime talk on passenger rail, held Sept. 13 at the Capitol in Madison. HSRA’s deputy director, Chris Ott, gave a talk called “Modern Trains for Wisconsin.” It covered proposals from both Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration for expanded passenger-train service in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation applied earlier this year for federal Corridor ID funding to study passenger rail service for three new corridors: between Milwaukee and Green Bay, between Milwaukee and Madison, and between Madison and the Twin Cities, via Eau Claire. We expect decisions on this year’s round of Corridor ID funding from the Federal Railroad Administration before the end of the year.

The Alliance talk also outlined the importance of integrating train service with other modes of transportation, and shared a vision for an even broader network of train service for Wisconsin, to serve nearly every part of the state. An audience of about two dozen people, both legislative staffers and lawmakers, attended.

Learn more about the Alliance’s vision for the Badger State.

10/16 Webinar: The Benefits of Regional Rail

Speaker: Rick Harnish, Executive Director, High Speed Rail Alliance

Time: Friday September 8, 12pm – 1pm CT

Regional Rail means running frequent trains on memory schedules (such as every 15 minutes in major cities, and every two hours statewide) to serve many types of travelers—not just those commuting to and from downtown for work. This change is already catching on, and the Alliance has recently featured speakers on Regional Rail proposals for cities such as Boston and Chicago. In this talk, our executive director, Rick Harnish, will explain Regional Rail’s benefits and what is needed to succeed.

Register Here

Passengers are boarding a regional train at Gare de Paris Saint Lazare.

Social Media Manager Position

The High Speed Rail Alliance is seeking a motivated and creative individual to join our Ambassadors Committee as a volunteer Social Media Manager. In this role, you will play a critical role in supporting our organization’s efforts to promote and advocate for high-speed rail in the United States. This part-time, unpaid position offers an excellent opportunity to gain practical experience in social media management, content creation, and digital marketing within the transportation advocacy sector.

If you’re interested, please reach out using our contact form and put “Social Media Manager” in the subject line.

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Join a growing movement working to make fast, frequent, and affordable trains a reality!

By taking people into the heart of our communities, trains revitalize both our civic life and our economies.

The truth is, most Americans would love to live and work in communities that are livable and sustainable. They want an alternative to the status quo.

Good train service isn’t the only path to a better world, but it’s a great start. Yet many people don’t know that it’s a real possibility or how they can help achieve it.

The Alliance is changing that. We educate and inform people who share our passion for the transformative power of trains, and we empower them to create real change.

Become a member by making a donation today and help revitalize our communities! We’ll also send you a train keychain.


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