Monday, May 09, 2011

Levin, Stabenow: High-Speed Rail funds keep Michigan on track for next generation transportation

WASHINGTON -- Michigan will receive more than $199 million in Recovery Act funds for high-speed rail projects, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced today.

The majority of funding will go to the development of a 135-mile high-speed rail corridor between Dearborn and Kalamazoo, part of the high-speed corridor between Detroit and Chicago. Other funds will go to development of the Ann Arbor station.

"This funding will help move Michigan and the nation forward by making high-speed rail a part of our economic infrastructure," Levin said. "Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail service between their cities. They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth, and that it can provide a more energy-efficient alternative."

"Construction of new high-speed lines will create jobs and generate more business activity in Michigan," Stabenow said. "This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options. As gas prices rise, it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving."

The funds announced today come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The money was previously granted to Florida, but reprogrammed after the Florida governor rejected it. The state of Michigan bid for part of that funding. Michigan previously received more than $161 million in funding for high-speed rail and $40 million for Amtrak stations in Troy, Battle Creek and Dearborn.

The $196.5 million for the Kalamazoo-Dearborn rail project will rehabilitate track and signal systems to allow trains to travel at 110 mph for the 235-mile stretch. The current obsolete signal system will be replaced with a positive train control system, improving safety. The grant fully funds the state’s request.

The Ann Arbor Station’s $2.8 million will be used to complete a preliminary engineering and environmental study required to design and construct a new high-speed rail station in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor Station is the busiest Amtrak station in Michigan, but only has single-tracking capacity, forcing intercity trains to block the mainline while serving the station. By constructing a passing track, more than one train will be able to service the station while others can pass unimpeded.

Michigan will also benefit from $268.2 million in funding for the purchase of 48 high-speed passenger rail cars and seven high-speed locomotives for service on eight corridors in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Michigan joined the other states in applying for the funds.

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