Posts Tagged ‘MDOT’

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Awards $150 Million to Michigan to Expand High-Speed Rail in the Midwest

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today awarded $150 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a high-speed rail project that will increase the safety and reliability of Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago and put more than 800 Americans back to work this spring.

“With America’s population set to grow by 100 million over the next 40 years, high-speed rail will play a vital role in meeting America’s long-term transportation challenges,” said Secretary LaHood. “Projects like this will employ local workers, use American-made materials and lay a strong foundation for future economic growth.”

The grant will enable MDOT to acquire ownership over much of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac High Speed Rail Corridor within the State of Michigan and pave the way for them to begin a track and signal improvement project between Detroit and Kalamazoo, MI, in the spring of 2012. These improvements will allow for speeds up to 110 mph on 77 percent of Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago, resulting in a 30 minute reduction in travel times between those destinations. Previously announced FRA investments in the line include new continuously welded rail and ties, fiber optic lines and infrastructure to support a positive train control system, rebuilding 180 highway-rail grade crossings and gates and flashers at 65 private highway-rail grade crossings.

The corridor will also benefit from next-generation American-made trains, funded as part of a previously announced $782 million grant that will pump new life into domestic manufacturing. States will purchase 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars to operate in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon.

Michigan is among thirty-two states throughout the U.S. and the District of Columbia that are laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors that will link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options.  To date, the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $10.1 billion to put American communities on track towards new and expanded rail access and improved reliability, speed and frequency of existing service.


Post Link:

MDOT issues Request for Proposal for the Chicago-Detroit Rail Corridor Investment Plan

The 304-mile rail corridor is a federally designated high-speed rail corridor.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation, Indiana Department of Transportation, and Norfolk Southern Railway, has issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for services of a qualified and experienced transportation (planning, environmental and engineering services) consultant or consultant team to complete a Service Development Plan and a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Tier-1 Environmental Impact Statement for the Chicago, Ill. — Detroit/Pontiac, Mich., Rail Corridor.

The FRA issued a Notice of Funding Availability on April 1, 2010, for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program in the Federal Register.  In response, MDOT submitted an application, which was selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to receive funding to develop a Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan.

The 304-mile corridor between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac is part of the Chicago Hub Network and is a federally designated High-Speed Rail Corridor. The existing corridor is also one of several major branches in the hub-and-spoke passenger rail system centered in Chicago, part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative.

In Chicago, construction started last month on the Englewood Flyover, a $133 million project to eliminate one of the Midwest’s worst rail bottlenecks and reduce delays for passenger service. The project, made possible by $126 million in federal funding and $6.6 million in matching state funds, also will make preparations for additional tracks for expanded 110 mph service from Chicago to Detroit, Cleveland and the East Coast.

The deadline for individual firms or teams to submit responses to the RFP is Dec. 12, 2011.

More information about this project is available on the MDOT Web site on the Requests for Proposals page under Transportation Planning.


Detroit to Chicago in less than 4 hours? 3 upgrades for Michigan passenger rail

Most of the upgrades are happening along the Detroit to Chicago route. That’s because this line was designated as a high speed rail corridor by the federal government back in 1992.

With that designation comes federal grant dollars.

And recently, it has meant hundreds of millions of federal stimulus dollars.

$639.5 million of the $687.4 million being invested in Michigan’s rail system is coming from the federal government. The rest is made up of state and local funds.


Post Link: Detroit to Chicago in less than 4 hours? 3 upgrades for Michigan passenger rail

Details emerging on MDOT purchase of train track from Kalamazoo to Dearborn

he details about who will pay for what are beginning to emerge on Michigan Department of Transportation’s announcement last week that it will purchase a critical 135-mile segment of railroad trackbetween Kalamazoo and Dearborn.


Post Link:

Train ridership on the rise: Ann Arbor remains busiest Amtrak stop between Detroit and Chicago

University of Michigan graduate student Jon Bolenbaugh says he uses the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor about twice a month and prefers train travel over driving or flying.

“I’ve taken a lot of train rides actually,” he said, waiting to catch the train to Chicago on Friday afternoon on his way to see his girlfriend for the weekend.

“It’s cheaper in terms of the gas right now and also flying is a pain,” Bolenbaugh said. “I used to fly two or three years ago until they changed the policies and now it’s like you have to get basically groped to fly. It takes more time to actually get to the airport, fly and get out of the airport than it does just to drive there or take the train.”


Post Link:

Faster than a speeding train, number of Amtrak riders soars in Flint

Dennis Jefferson noticed something on his Amtrak trip from Charleston, Miss., to Flint this week: There’s a lot less elbow room and a lot more people on the train than there were just six months ago.

Fueled by higher gas prices and what state transportation officials say is greater awareness, the number of Amtrak riders has exploded on the Blue Water route that runs from Port Huron to Chicago and stops daily in Flint.

The increase in passenger traffic on the route during the last six months — 26.2 percent — is among the highest in the nation, and gains at the Flint station — 34.7 percent — are even higher during that same period.


Post Link:

Word on Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail expected next week

Crain’s Detroit Business

Organizers of a Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail project expect to learn next week if $200 million in federal capital funding will be approved.

The Federal Rail Administration money (via the second round of funding set aside for high-speed rail projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) would be used to build new sidings, signals and make other corridor improvements, said Carmine Palombo, director of transportation planning for the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments regional planning agency.

“It would eliminate the conflict between freight and passenger trains,” he said.

The 48-mile rail project, which would start with four daily round trips, is a joint effort by SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Transportation and could be operational — if it gets the money — by the end of 2011, Palombo said.

“Probably the most optimistic scenario is the end of next year,” he said.

Amtrak will be contracted to operate the service.

Palombo gave backers an update on the project today.

A $12 million MDOT project to eliminate a bottleneck east of Dearborn where two tracks merge into one line is scheduled to begin in the spring, he said.

That’s expected to trim five to seven minutes off the trip, making it about 50 to 55 minutes. Stops will be at Detroit, Dearborn, near Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.

Work is under way on the federally required environmental assessment.

Three locomotives and nine passenger cars have been leased from Great Lakes Central Railroad, which is owned by Farmington Hills-based Federated Capital Corp., and are in the process of being refurbished and painted, Palombo said.

The lease and refurbishment work is about $2 million. The livery will be green, yellow and blue, and trains will be a locomotive with two cars.

SEMCOG previously wanted to have a demonstration service set up by this month for special events, such as University of Michigan football games and the Thanksgiving parade, but the organizing process didn’t allow that to happen.

The demonstration service could still happen this year if the funding is awarded and work on the cars is done soon, Palombo said.

When the regular service begins, fares could run $6 to $8 for the full trip between Detroit and Ann Arbor, or $1.50 to $2 between stations. Those numbers could change by the time the service begins, Palombo said.

Post Link:

Group seeks area’s ‘vision’ for Michigan rail systems
Holland, MI —

Thursday meeting

KEY ACTION: About three dozen people attended a forum hosted by a statewide coalition of community and nonprofit groups, Michigan by Rail, to brainstorm about the future of rail service in Michigan. The forums are designed to jump-start discussion among the public and between the public and government officials. The state will host other forums.
The future of rail could be an expansion, it could be reduction, it could be the status quo, explained Timothy R. Fischer, deputy policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. “We’re simply trying to ask the question and figure out what the response is.”
Participants broke into groups to identify locations they considered home, another dot to identify important places to travel to in Michigan, then discuss and draw in ideas of where train routes might be considered in Michigan.
• The Holland event was the ninth of 16 forums held around the state. So far, Fischer said, forums have emphasized expansion, with three trends:  
1. A strong desire for an east-to-west connector, not geared to
2. A strong desire for north-south rail, from Traverse City to Ann Arbor or Grand Rapids.
3. Appreciation for the current system, but want for more frequency, better on-time performance.
• High-speed rail is a long-range goal for the heavily used Chicago-Detroit corridor. Amtrak already owns 100 miles of rail from Porter, Indiana to Kalamazoo on which it can travel in excess of 90 mph. Michigan has applied for $350 million to $400 million of federal Recovery Act money.
• Thursday’s local discussion emphasized connections north to tourism areas, connections to university city hubs, as well as connections to major population and economic centers. “It was very interesting to see in our group a tourism focus first, but also a need to move people between employment centers,” said Steve Bulthuis, executive director of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council.
• Questions and discussion touched on spending on trains when more people travel by road, about how many people use trains, about the need to plan ahead for when gasoline hits $7 per gallon, and about the need to consider “light rail” to connect Holland, Grand Rapids and Muskegon/Grand Haven.

• Michigan by Rail’s web site:
• State Department of Transportation web site:\mdot

UP NEXT: The state Department of Transportation is charged with developing a Michigan State Rail Plan. It is hosting four forums around the state, with the nearest to Holland set for Grand Rapids from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, MDOT Transportation Service Center, 2660 Leonard St. NE.

Post Link:

Groups pushing for better rail service in metro area

Press & Guide

DEARBORN — Mayor Jack O’Reilly and other city officials took part in a public forum on Michigan’s passenger rail transportation future Wednesday on the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

“I’ve been in and out of issues with transit since 1980 when I was working with the Senate Transportation Committee,” O’Reilly said. “We’ve had a lot of false starts, but no real progress in any kinds of mass transit and there’s got to be a starting point. If we can get the momentum going, we can begin to explore this.”

Recent federal support has put Michigan in a great position to build a modern rail transit system that is clean, fast and convenient, according to John Langdon of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers.

“We want residents to shape that vision and discuss how best to meet big challenges like funding for such a rail network,” Langdon said.

Wednesday’s forum was part of a series of 16 taking place throughout the state to engage citizens on a vision for the future and forward the ideas to state and federal policymakers.

“The Michigan Department of Transportation is required to perform a state rail plan and submit it to the federal railroad administration in order to receive federal money in the future for the rail system,” said Tim Fischer, deputy policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council. “ They’re in the process of taking input from Michigan citizens.”

Each forum includes an overview of the existing rail system, an interactive rail mapping session, discussion of financing options and a big picture vision for a modern Michigan high-speed rail system.

“This is really a way to begin the discussion of what we want to see in Michigan’s passenger and to some extent the freight rail system,” Fischer said.

According to Landon, similar forums have drawn hundreds of residents and civic leaders in venues including Royal Oak, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Traverse City, New Buffalo, St. Joseph and Jackson.

Others are planned for cities including Grand Rapids, Holland, Muskegon, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Flint, Monroe, and Ann Arbor.

“This is really something we’re way behind in, and if we miss this opportunity it may have a terrible impact because the reality is the demand for petroleum based products worldwide is going to continue to expand,” O’Reilly said. “It’s a limited resource. If we don’t really explore alternatives to that, then there may be a time when we’re going to find we’re going to lose the opportunity to move forward economically.”

Officials have said rail transit would help reduce congestion in Southeast Michigan, improve road quality and the daily commute for constituents, and assist communities with economic development, employer recruitment and livability.

But just how Michigan will be able to afford expanded rail service is still a mystery. Paul Tait, executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said in June the state would likely have to raise taxes.

A modest increase in the gas and vehicle registration tax, SEMCOG argues, could raise more than $1 billion annually for road and transit projects in Michigan, and $100 million of that could go to projects like the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit rail line.

The line includes a stop in Dearborn — where plans to build a new intermodal rail station continue to move forward. The new station will be about 20,000 square feet and located at Michigan Avenue and Elm (east of Brady, west of the Southfield Freeway), placing it within walking distance of Greenfield Village and the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

“This site was selected for the new station because it’s the nexus point for being able to get off the train, cross a bridge and end up on the Henry Ford campus or walk to our West Downtown district,” said Barry Murray, director of Dearborn Economic and Community Development Department.

“We’re also looking at building a bridge across Michigan Avenue as part of this project, which would give us a direct link to about 27,000 students on our two campuses. People don’t usually think of Dearborn as a college town, but when you put it in that context we have as many if not more students than traditional college towns in the area. A lot of our students are commuters, but UM-D is looking at adding student housing as part of their growth plan.”

Mayor O’Reilly said he believes investing in state-of-the-art passenger rail is essential to the future of Dearborn, Metro Detroit and Michigan.

“The thing I think should be most compelling to us is the one community that lagged behind Detroit for years was the Los Angeles area,” he said. “I was out there this summer and I rode their rail. They are ahead of us now in terms of transit development, which is quite shocking if you think of the history of Los Angeles.

“What’s really extraordinary is they’re driving It downtown. Los Angeles didn’t really have a downtown before, but now they have a more vital downtown in this economy than they’ve ever had in their past. They’re driving energy and investment into their downtown with transit.”

Murray said he thinks Dearborn could do the same with its intermodal rail station.

“What we see spinning off from this is transit oriented development (the idea that people want to be around transit stations and actually want to base their life in that area) so you see an increased demand for housing, commercial development and institutional development,” he said.

The proposed intermodal station is being paid for through a $40 million grant from the $8 billion in high-speed rail money that was made available through the Obama administration.

“We hope to receive our grant by the end of the year and we have 24 months from the day the federal railroad administration gives that grant to MDOT to finish the project,” Murray said.

Post Link:

Draw your own rail line routes rolled out

Herald Palladium

Would passengers be more likely to ride a train along Michigan’s west coast to the Upper Peninsula? How about a line linking the state’s universities?

Those possible routes were shuttled around at Wednesday’s Michigan by Rail forum at the Shadowland Ballroom, a joint effort of the Michigan Environmental Council and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers.

In the end, new passenger rail routes in Michigan may come down to who draws the maps and who most effectively lets elected officials know their desires.

“The important thing to remember is the squeaky registered voter gets the grease,” MARP Chairman John DeLora told the group.

“I’ve been a supporter of Amtrak from the get-go, and I understand the importance of what mass transit means – which is really multiple sources,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said. “Rail needs to be part of that.”

That lesson became clear to Upton about 30 years ago while visiting a military base in the United Kingdom.

“High-speed rail was there – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have it here,” Upton said. “It is a partnership. The states are engaged and involved and need to continue to be so.”

Equipped with colored dot stickers, markers and oversized maps of Michigan, local governmental officials, planners and residents were asked to draw their preferred routes without worrying about finances or logistics.

“We left that intentionally vague,” MEC Deputy Policy Director Tim Fischer told the group. “The idea was not to connect the dots, but think where you wanted to go – to get you thinking about places and destinations.”

Participants broke up into seven smaller groups. Most of their maps focused on connecting points in West and Southwest Michigan, with some notable variations.

The map devised by St. Joseph Charter Township Manager Tim Fenderbosch’s group showed a line running prominently up West Michigan’s coastline from St. Joseph to the Upper Peninsula.

That’s how group members felt the state should position itself in the competition for tourism dollars, Fenderbosch said.

“I think they need to maintain the routes that go along the beautiful shoreline and make people want to come to Michigan,” he said.

Shadowland building director Phil Knuth’s group also developed a map with a marked Upper Peninsula flavor.

“If you could extend (rail routes) to the Keweenaw Peninsula, or just get up the U.P. and across, that could be a big attraction,” Knuth said.

Benton Harbor Planning Commission Secretary Rich Hensel’s group developed a map that links college and university areas.

“Their populations of students and communities might actually provide more traffic for trains,” Hensel said.

“We’ve heard that before, (at previous forums) in East Lansing and, to some degree, in Royal Oak,” MEC’s Tim Fischer said. “I think we heard it in Jackson as well, from parents, about getting their kids back home to visit them.”

People are starting to appreciate what enhanced mass transit can do for them, particularly in light of America’s chilly economic climate, Upton said afterward.

“Part of it is we’re seeing ridership increase,” Upton said. “And if we could see the frequency of trains increase, we could have a double train, or a morning train, into Chicago.”

Sixteen forums are planned statewide. Then the association and the council will submit whatever information they collect to Michigan’s next governor, Fischer said. Wednesday’s event was the seventh.

The data should also help the Michigan Department of Transportation, which is taking public comment on what the state’s freight and rail passenger network should look like, Fischer said.

The agency is drawing up an official railroad plan, which was required by a 2008 law to get federal funding for rail upgrades.

For more information about Michigan By Rail, visit online at

Post Link:

Twit us Follow us on Facebook Submit RSS Feed

Copyright © 2010, All Rights Reserved. Powered by SWATware

Bottom logo