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Hilliard’s Proposed Passenger Rail Station Sites Offer Regional Benefits, Advantages

HILLIARD, Ohio – Two adjacent locations along the existing CSX line in Hilliard offer significant advantages as possible sites for a future Amtrak passenger rail station that could accommodate up to 100,000 arrivals and departures per year.

Feasibility Study | Site Advantages | Hilliard Location Map | Regional Location Map | Future Rail Routes

That figure was among findings of a feasibility study recently completed by infrastructure consulting firm AECOM. The study identified benefits to the Hilliard sites that include proximity to I-270, land that is already owned by the City of Hilliard, and existing restaurant, hotel, and retail amenities that would serve passengers.

The study indicates the sites – just north of Cemetery Road and immediately west of I-270 – are ideally suited for a suburban station that would support the Federal Railroad Administration’s considerations to reintroduce passenger rail service through Central Ohio.

“Our analysis indicates that either site (in Hilliard) is feasible for the proposed use and that the site should be designed to accommodate 20,000 –100,000 arrivals and departures per year,” AECOM’s study determined. 

Distinct advantages

According to AECOM’s research, advantages of developing a station on the Hilliard sites include:

Site Design: Both sites can be designed to accommodate 20,000 to 100,000 arrivals and departures per year, with room for future growth.

City-owned Land: The City of Hilliard already owns the land on the western site and a portion of the land on the eastern site.

Convenient Access: In addition to being very near north and southbound I-270, stations at these locations would be within a 15-minute drive for nearly a half-million people – and within a 30-minute drive for nearly 1.43 million people.

Multi-Modal Hub: The site would be built to serve as a multi-modal transportation hub, with access to current and future COTA bus lines, the Central Ohio multi-use trail network, and on-demand shuttle & micro-transit service.

Amenities: Stations built on either site would be within walking distance of existing convenient amenities, including hotels, restaurants, grocery and other retail stores, and major Central Ohio businesses.

Development Opportunities: The City of Hilliard’s Comprehensive Community Plan identifies the Cemetery Road corridor as an important focus area for future redevelopment as a regionally significant mixed-use economic development hub. The rail station also would be close to other areas that are already seeing significant development and redevelopment, including the I-270 corridor.

Creating Opportunities: Placing a station in Hilliard aligns with the US Department of Transportation’s Justice40 initiative, which is focused on disadvantaged communities and is designed to increase affordable transportation options, fight climate change, and improve access to resources and quality of life.

The feasibility study indicates that of the 1.43 million people who live within 30 minutes of the proposed Hilliard station, 23.4 percent meet the Justice40 definition of being among disadvantaged communities.

Reinvigorating passenger rail travel

The AECOM study evaluated two possible adjacent Hilliard sites that could host a future passenger rail station along the proposed “Midwest Connect” corridor that would connect Chicago, Fort Wayne, Columbus, and Pittsburgh.

In addition to the Midwest Connect corridor route, the City of Hilliard could be considered as a station location along the 3C+D route also being studied. That route would connect Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. The study further indicates Hilliard is well-positioned to serve as part of two long-distance passenger rail corridors being considered that would run from Detroit to New Orleans and from Dallas to New York City.

The two adjacent sites that were part of the feasibility study are located along both sides of the existing CSX train line north of Cemetery Road, conveniently located just west of the I-270 interchange.

  • The first site is on 2.8 acres at 3978 Brown Park Drive, west of the CSX line and east of the U.S. Post Office on Leap Road.
  • The second site is east of the CSX line, behind the Giant Eagle Marketplace shopping center on Britton Parkway.

AECOM estimates the station construction costs on either site would be around $15 million to $16 million, including construction and professional services. A portion of those costs could come from federal and state funds.

Benefits to Hilliard and Central Ohio

The possibility of passenger rail in central Ohio provides an affordable, safe, and convenient means of transit that would further improve the region’s economic development opportunities, workforce availability, sustainability, and overall quality of life.

“By encouraging equitable transit-oriented developments, a project like a passenger rail station in Hilliard helps ensure affordable transportation options are available and that affordable housing options are maintained and considered in future redevelopment,” City Manager Michelle Crandall said. “These development priorities are outlined within our recently adopted Community Plan for the Cemetery Road area.”

“We see Hilliard as the ideal location for a first stop outside of the primary downtown Columbus Convention Center station location, Crandall said. “The numerous benefits outlined in the AECOM study indicate Hilliard would be a prime site for such a development.”

The federal government’s work to identify and develop corridors for future passenger rail lines represents a long-term commitment between local communities, the Federal Rail Administration and Amtrak, Crandall said.

“This feasibility study is our City’s first major step toward ensuring we are visible as a highly viable station location and are at the table as future analysis and decisions are made that could offer significant benefits to our community, Central Ohio, Ohio and the nation, Crandall said. “The reintroduction of passenger rail being proposed to come through Central Ohio would bring significant benefits to our region, offering a convenient, affordable transportation option for business and leisure travelers, and Hilliard is poised to be a key component in that transformation.”

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