Local and state officials today announced a tentative agreement to complete up to $39 million in projects over three years to alleviate chronic traffic delays at the Canadian National rail crossing on Allen Road in Woodhaven.
Officials included Warren C. Evans, Wayne County executive, U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), State Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), and State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown). The city of Woodhaven and Michigan Department of Transportation also were represented.
“This is another long-standing problem that’s held back Wayne County, and I’m pleased we were able to bring all levels of government together to finally broker a solution and help increase access to the downriver economic corridor,” says Evans. “This is a key artery to one of our busiest commercial and industrial corridors, and the delays have created headaches for residents, businesses, and visitors for years.”
The projects will create a grade separation at Allen Road, elevating the train crossing above the road and lowering the road by more than 20 feet to pass under the bridge. The estimated cost will include road reconstruction work at both Allen and Van Horn roads as well as construction of a pump house and relocation of utility, water, and sewer lines.
Funding will come from federal, state, and local revenue. The agreement still requires approvals from the Wayne County Board of Commissioners and the Woodhaven City Council. The county also needs to bid and award the work over the next nine months.
“There are a number of serious train issues downriver where railroads block intersections for significant amounts of time,” says Dingell. “Recognizing this, John Dingell got federal money 15 years ago so communities could begin to address the problem. Today’s announcement moving forward with the Allen Road crossing in Woodhaven is only a start in addressing the devastating delays for residents trying to get to the only level II trauma center downriver, for major automotive companies trying to get just-in-time deliveries, and residents trying to get to and from work or school. This is just the beginning, and we have much work ahead of us to address the other problematic crossings in the area.”
On average, more than 30,000 vehicles, including 2,140 commercial trucks, traverse the crossing daily, typically competing with nine trains using the Canadian National Flat Rock Yard. The average stoppage caused by the trains is just over nine minutes, which amounts to more than one hour in total per day. It’s not uncommon for some stops to last 45 minutes or more. In one instance in 2014, trains blocked the crossing for more than six hours due to a mechanical failure.
The officials made the announcement at the Downriver Economic Development Summit hosted by the Detroit Regional Partnership at Wayne County Community College District’s campus in Taylor. Businesses impacted by the crossing include Beaumont Hospital, Trenton; Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Trenton Engine Plant; General Motors’ Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant; three Ford Motor Co. plants; the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge; the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District; police and fire stations; and the 33rd District Court.
“By bringing people together and reaching a deal to finally build this bridge, we’re delivering results for downriver residents and finding a solution to this problem after decades of attempts,” says Camilleri. “With this grade separation, our community will be safer and have more opportunities for economic development. I’m excited that the $12 million we secured in the state budget could be a catalyst to finally get this project started. This project is going to provide relief to the residents and businesses who’ve been hurt by the crippling delays.”
The city and county applied for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants for the project for several years but were not granted any funds.