DETROIT, May 9, 2011 — Gov. Rick Snyder and U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that Michigan will receive nearly $200 million in federal accelerated rail grants for projects to improve the rail corridor between Dearborn and Kalamazoo.
The corridor is part of the Wolverine passenger rail service. The funding includes $196.5 million for a project to improve tracks and ties on this key 135-mile corridor, restore portions to 79 mph service, and make further improvements that will allow train speeds up to 110 mph. A $2.8 million grant will complete preliminary engineering and environmental work for a new intermodal station in Ann Arbor that will serve both Amtrak and local transit passengers.
“Accelerated rail service has the ability to enhance our economy, environment and overall quality of life,” Snyder said. “An investment of this magnitude can spur economic development in our communities with rail stations, and provide access to a 21st century rail system that will help Michigan citizens compete in a global economy. Reliable, fast train service is attractive to businesses that want to locate or expand near it. This investment in our rail system is critical to Michigan’s recovery.”
Michigan also will receive partial funding for locomotives and coaches, as part of a joint application with Illinois, Wisconsin and Missouri. This new train equipment will replace existing equipment and can be used on all three Amtrak lines in the state – the Wolverine, Blue Water and Pere Marquette.
“Investments in transportation infrastructure grow the economy by creating jobs in the short and long term,” said Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation director. “Improving rail travel between Detroit and Chicago will spur economic development and enhance the quality of life in the communities along the corridor and ease congestion on I-94, one of the nation’s busiest truck routes.”
Snyder pointed out that ridership along all three lines has risen substantially, surpassing record levels set in 2010. During the first six months in fiscal year 2011, ridership climbed 16.3 percent along the Wolverine line; more than 26 percent along the Blue Water and over 6 percent on the Pere Marquette.
The funding was awarded on a competitive basis among 24 states that applied for accelerated rail funding after Florida returned money that it was allocated. The projects were evaluated on the basis of their ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region’s overall transportation network, and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor.
For more information on the projects, go to the Michigan Department of Transportation website www.michigan.gov/mdot, then Rail & Public Transit.