Michigan Awarded Grant for High Speed Rail

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

The backdrop was the oldest continuous-use train station in the country, but Thursday's announcement in Jackson was all about the future.

"We're excited about bringing high speed rail to Michigan," Al Johnson, supervisor of MDOT Office of High Speed Rail and Innovative Project Advancement, said.

The federal government awarded Michigan $161 million in grant money for high speed rail projects. $150 million of that will be spent upgrading rail service between Dearborn and Kalamazoo -- one of the most congested parts of the track.

"Initially our intent is to make infrastructure improvements, replace tile, improve some signal work, etc., to raise speeds back to 79 miles per hour," Johnson said.

In the future, the goal is to make more improvements that will eventually support train travel at speeds of 110 miles per hour between Detroit and Chicago. The ultimate goal is to create a Midwestern high speed rail network, but those dreams are much further down the road.

This investment is supposed to create 1,200 -1,600 jobs in the short term, but there are also long term gains for the cities and towns that are located all along the track.

"It's about jobs," Rep. Mark Schauer said. "It's about people who will be repairing and upgrading the tracks and building signaling and switches."

Congressman Schauer is on the House Transportation Committee and worked with the federal government and the state to bring the money here. This announcement, he said, has nothing to do with his reelection campaign.

"I wish we had this $150 million six months ago," Schauer said. "This is good news we got it, now we can start the work and start creating jobs."

Construction on the track is scheduled to begin next summer and be completed within two years.

Michigan was one of 23 states awarded money from the federal government for high speed rail projects. The deputy secretary for transportation tells News Ten it will take time to establish a nation-wide high speed rail system, but it is a priority of the Obama Administration.

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  • by Ricardo Location: Lansing on Oct 29, 2010 at 12:14 PM
    Yet another waste of limited funds. Who is going to ride this fiasco? Unless they install miles of new track, this thing wouldn't be able to go much faster than 30 mph. Oh well, another example of your special interest people at work! Thank you. Ricardo
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