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Enhanced passenger train service between Detroit and Chicago will become a reality after the Michigan House of Representatives approved today state match money to access $161 million in federal grants awarded to Michigan for projects along the corridor.  The Michigan Senate passed the bill last week.

The federal grants – totaling over $400.7 million in the last two years – provide money to acquire and rehabilitate 135 miles of Norfolk Southern railroad track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, upgrade stations (Dearborn, Troy-Birmingham and Battle Creek), and rework congestion points to separate passenger and freight trains. The result will be a Chicago-Detroit trip in about four hours – shaving up to 90 minutes off the existing travel time.  More importantly, perhaps, these projects will provide greater consistency in keeping trains on schedule.

$198.6 million of the total grant awards represent re-granted ARRA funds from Florida after the governor there foolishly rejected the money.  Michigan Governor Rick Snyder directed the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to apply for the redirected funds and eagerly accepted them at a ceremony in Detroit this summer.

Governor Snyder has proven a strong supporter of passenger rail.  The budget he presented earlier this year fully funded the state’s passenger rail (and public transportation) programs at the outset for the first time in recent memory.  He takes up and disposes of issues methodically, viewing them through a “business case” lens.  Passenger rail has fared favorably in his reviews.

The governor appointed former Congressman Dr. Joe Schwarz as a private sector representative to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) earlier this year.  Dr. Schwarz was a strong supporter of passenger rail during his many years as an elected official.  He is the Governor’s advisor on passenger rail issues.  He made the case for this supplemental appropriation in the Senate Appropriations hearing last week.  He addressed the concerns of the Senators and smoothed the way for the House to act today.

MDOT should be commended for putting together solid ARRA applications and explaining them to decision makers over the years.

The appropriation, $39,213,600, includes $18,950,000 in private funds contributed by the Norfolk Southern railroad, which currently owns the track.  It also includes $1.5 million in local funds contributed by the City of Ann Arbor for work on its new multi modal station.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                      TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2011

 

CONTACT: Bob Parsons, MDOT Public Involvement, 517-373-9534

 

MDOT seeks comments on State Rail Plan in

second set of public meetings across state

 

May 24, 2011 — The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is holding a series of six public meetings across the state to present the draft State Rail Plan and ask the public to weigh in with comments. The meetings will give people an opportunity to review the draft document, ask questions and provide input before the plan is finalized.

The meetings will provide the public an opportunity to learn about the current rail system and future trends, rail funding challenges and opportunities, and investment scenarios that will inform state policy makers.

People also can learn about and comment on the draft plan by visiting the State Rail Plan Web site www.michigan.gov/mirailplan. The plan is expected to be finalized in July. Comments will be accepted until July 1.

The following meetings will be open to the public from 4 to 7:30 p.m., with presentations at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

            Tuesday, June 7

Michigan State University, Detroit Center Building

3408 Woodward Ave.

Detroit

Wednesday, June 8

Battle Creek Unlimited

4950 W. Dickman Road (access building from Brydges Road, use north entrance)

Battle Creek

Thursday, June 9

Mass Transit Facility (lower level)

1401 S. Dort Highway

Flint

Tuesday, June 14

Bay de Noc Community College

2001 N. Lincoln Road

Escanaba

Wednesday, June 15

Michigan Works! Service Center (use south entrance)

1209 S. Garfield Ave.

Traverse City

Thursday, June 16

MDOT Grand Rapids Transportation Service Center

2660 Leonard St. NE

Grand Rapids

Persons with disabilities and/or limited English-speaking abilities who need auxiliary aids or services of interpreters, signers, readers, or large print, should contact Bob Parsons at 517-373-9534 at least seven days prior to the meeting for arrangements.

###

MDOT: Working with our partners at airports, bus systems, marine and rail to find innovative solutions for Michigan’s transportation systems.

 

www.michigan.gov/drive  |  www.twitter.com/MichiganDOT  |  www.facebook.com/MichiganDOT

 

National Train Day this Saturday, May 7

http://www.nationaltrainday.com/

Stop by the Michigan events located at these stations:

Ann Arbor Amtrak Station

325 Depot Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 7:00 a.m.

End Time: 9:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and members of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers as they celebrate National Train Day with coffee and donuts! Mayor Hieftje will read a proclamation from the City in support of train travel and present it to the conductor of Amtrak train #351 heading to Chicago.

Bangor Amtrak Station

541 Railroad Street
Bangor, MI 49013Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 9:00 a.m.

End Time: 12:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join us at the historic Pere Marquette (Amtrak) station in Bangor, Michigan as we celebrate National Train Day! The Mayor of Bangor will read a proclamation following the arrival of Amtrak train 371, the Pere Marquette. Enjoy live music, refreshments, an operating HO scale model train layout from the Holland Modular Railroad Club and so much more.

Detroit Amtrak Station

11 West Baltimore Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 7:00 a.m.

End Time: 1:00 p.m.

Event Description: Celebrate National Train Day with cake and coffee and pick up some Amtrak promotional material! Stay and hear from Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers and Transportation Riders United about the future Woodward light rail connecting to Amtrak and the future commuter rail at this station. At noon Mayor Bing will present the National Train Day proclamation to the Amtrak conductor.

Website: visit

Dowagiac Amtrak Station

200 Depot Drive
Dowagaic, MI 49047Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 10:00 a.m.

End Time: 4:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join us to celebrate National Train Day! The celebration will include a model train display by the Cass Railroad Club, refreshments, and Amtrak information.

East Lansing Amtrak Station

1240 South Harrison Road
East Lansing, MI 48823Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 7:30 a.m.

End Time: 8:30 a.m.

Event Description: Bring family and friends to celebrate National Train Day! Enjoy free coffee and a presentation of the Michigan House of Representatives and East Lansing City Council’s resolutions declaring May 7th National Train Day in Michigan.

Website: visit

Rainy Day Hobbies

22961 Woodward Avenue
Ferndale, MI 48220Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 10:00 a.m.

End Time: 6:00 p.m.

Event Description: Rainy Day Hobbies will host an open house to celebrate National Train Day. The event will feature model railroading demonstrations, Amtrak train videos, children’s coloring contest, train Games, refreshments, train gifts and more railroad related fun.

Website: visit

Flint Amtrak Station

1407 South Dort Highway @ I 69
Flint, MI 48503Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 6:30 a.m.

End Time: 12:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join the National Association of Railway Business Women Display to celebrate National Train Day! Activities will include a kids area, model train display by Mid Michigan Railway Historical Society, Operation Lifesaver, rail display and refreshments.

Louis & Helen Padnos Transportation Center

171 Lincoln Ave
Holland, MI 49423Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 7:00 a.m.

End Time: 8:30 a.m.

Event Description: Come celebrate National Train Day with the City of Holland! Share anniversary cake and beverages from 7:00 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. when Pere Marquette Train #371 arrives on its way to Chicago. Other activities include a reading of a proclamation by Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Vande Vusse recognizing May 7, 2011 as Train Day in the City of Holland and volunteers providing information regarding the history of Michigan passenger trains. .

Website: visit

Jackson (MI) Amtrak Station

501 E. Michigan Avenue
Jackson, MI 49201Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 08:30 a.m.

End Time: 02:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join us as we celebrate National Train Day at “The Oldest Continuous Operational Railroad Designed and Built Passenger Train Station in the United States,” the historic Michigan Central Railroad (Amtrak) station in Jackson, Michigan! Don’t miss out on your chance to see trains, model trains, explore interactive and educational exhibits, trip planning and so much more.

Kalamazoo Model Railroad Historical Society

9336 North Riverview
Kalamazoo, MI 49004Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 10:00 a.m.

End Time: 2:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join us for our spring open house event to celebrate National Train Day! Our 24×40-foot HO scale layout will be operating and the 1912-vintage full-size caboose will be open to tour. There will be games and coloring pages for children. Admission and refreshments are free.

Website: visit

Kalamazoo Amtrak Station

459 N Burdick Street
Kalamazoo, MI 49007-3669Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 9:30 a.m.

End Time: 11:30 a.m.

Event Description: Celebrate National Train Day with the Michigan Assocation of Railroad Passengers! Greet the three morning trains and hear a reading of the Proclamation of the City of Kalamazoo at 9:40 am. Exhibitors include: Kalamazoo Model Railroad Historical Society; Vicksburg Depot Museum; Chicago, Kalamazoo and Saginaw Railfan Festival; Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers; Operation Lifesaver. MARP is also sponsoring a day trip by train between Kalamazoo and New Buffalo, MI.

Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve

13988 Range Line Road
Niles, MI 49120Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 10:00 a.m.

End Time: 6:00 p.m.

Event Description: Celebrate National Train Day with the season opening of Fernwood’s railway garden, designed by Applied Imagination’s Paul Busse. The garden features G-scale trains on four levels of track, a waterfall, stream, pond, and mountain. This year’s theme is “Roadside Attractions” and showcases scaled reproduction of whimsical buildings such as the Brown Derby Restaurant, Corn Palace, Wigwam Motel, Airplane Gas Station, and more. In addition, the exhibit includes replicas of the local Pears Mill, Niles Depot, St. Joseph Lighthouse, and Notre Dame’s Golden Dome.

Website: visit

Niles Amtrak Station

598 Dey Street
Niles, MI 49120Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 10:00 a.m.

End Time: 03:00 p.m.

Event Description: Join us at the historic 1892 Michigan Central Railroad (Amtrak) station in Niles, Michigan as we celebrate National Train Day! Greet the arrival of Amtrak train 365, the Blue Water, and Wolverine trains 350, 351 and 352 while exploring interactive and educational exhibits from the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Four Flags Garden Club and Niles DDA Main Street; an operating Garden scale model train layout from the Southwest Michigan Garden Railroad Club and so much more.

Starr Jaycee Park

13 Mile Road between Crooks & Main Street
Royal Oak, MI 48067Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 12:00 p.m.

End Time: 4:00 p.m.

Event Description: Bring friends and family to celebrate National Train Day! Enjoy free miniature train rides in Starr Jaycee Park from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m. weather permitting.

Website: visit

Saginaw Railway Museum

900 Maple Street
Saginaw, MI 48602Event Date: 5/7/2011

Start Time: 1:00 p.m.

End Time: 6:00 p.m.

Event Description: Celebrate National Train Day with the Saginaw Railway Museum! There will be an open house from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., followed by a slideshow highlighting some mid-Michigan railroading from the “good old days.” Admission is free, but donations are asked.

Website: visit

In June 2010, Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) convened a series of statewide public forums focused on Michigan’s rail system.  Sixteen Michigan By Rail public forums were held across the state during the summer and fall.

This summary of Michigan By Rail findings provides a brief overview of the Michigan By Rail public forums, a discussion of the five common themes that emerged through each forum, a description of each of the forums including promotional materials, sample press materials and sample maps from each forum that best represent the general direction of that particular forum.

The purpose of the Michigan By Rail public forums was to begin a statewide conversation about Michigan’s passenger rail system, to better understand what Michiganders want out of the state’s passenger rail system, and to encourage citizens to submit their ideas to the Michigan Department of Transportation for incorporation into the official State Rail Plan.

The forums took place on weekday evenings and were primarily participant-driven.  They began with opening remarks which included an explanation of Michigan By Rail public forums and the State Rail Plan.  MEC and MARP clearly distinguished Michigan By Rail public forums from the transportation department’s four listening sessions.

Short introductions of the sponsors, local partners, and elected-official hosts followed the opening remarks.  Three United States congressmen, twenty-five state legislators, more than twelve mayors, and numerous city council members and township officials hosted the events.  Over 100 local partners, including more than 40 municipalities, eighteen chambers of commerce, seven planning departments, six conventions and visitors’ bureaus, and many others, helped publicize the forums.  Roughly 1,100 citizens participated.

Interactive mapping sessions consumed the majority of the forums.  Participants clustered around tables in groups of about ten.  The participants were given large Michigan maps which contained only county lines.  The participants were instructed to first place a sticker on the map which indicated where they considered home.  Then, they placed another sticker on the map at a place that they considered to be important to the state — a natural area, culturally significant place, etc.  Some participants used more than one sticker.  They were then instructed to draw lines on the map where they would like to travel by passenger train.  They also were reminded to consider freight rail traffic.  Finally, a person from each table presented that table’s map to the group at large — summaries of discussions, an explanation of what they drew on the map, and so on. The full group had the opportunity to question and comment on each map.

A representative from Amtrak or the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers explained Michigan’s current passenger rail system after the map presentations.  The overview of the current system was intentionally delayed until after each table presented its map so as not to influence the mapping session.  The system overview led into wide-ranging discussions that consumed the remainder of the forum.  The discussions varied from forum to forum based on participant interest.  Common themes emerged both in the discussions and written input submitted by participants.

MEC and MARP collected input from participants about the current passenger rail system and their visions for its future.  Participants’ comments and the maps they created were used in the preparation of this document.

Nearly all of the participants wanted an improved and expanded rail system including more frequent and reliable service.  Five passenger rail themes emerged over the course of sixteen Michigan By Rail public forums regarding how to best achieve that goal:

  1. Michigan’s passenger rail system should include a Traverse City to southern Michigan connection.
  2. Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect east Michigan to west Michigan.
  3. Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect Michigan’s universities.
  4. Michigan’s passenger rail system should include commuter rail connections.
  5. Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect to Toledo.

What follows is a brief discussion of each of the common themes.

Michigan’s passenger rail system should include a Traverse City to southern Michigan connection
Each map at each forum included connecting Traverse City to the southern part of the state in some fashion.  The southern connection points varied between Grand Rapids and the Ann Arbor area depending on where the forum was held.  The maps, discussion, and comments, however, were consistent across forums regarding a Traverse City to southern Michigan passenger rail connection.

Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect east Michigan to west Michigan
Almost every map included connecting Michigan’s east side to west side from Detroit to Lansing to Grand Rapids (and often Holland).  Discussions around this passenger rail connection focused on linking together Michigan’s three principal cities (without first traveling to Chicago); commuter possibilities; connecting two major universities, Michigan State University and Wayne State University; make doing business easier in the three cities; and tourist travel — sports venues in Detroit, Art Prize in Grand Rapids, and the Capitol and other state government interests in Lansing.

Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect Michigan’s universities
Participants consistently mentioned a desire to connect Michigan’s universities and colleges. Some Michigan college towns are currently served by Amtrak; increasing service frequency, re-scheduling to accommodate the academic calendar, and connecting the college and universities together were reoccurring points.  The rationale that surfaced most typically in connecting the state’s academic institutions was to allow for instructors and students to more easily work and study at more than one institution.

Michigan’s passenger rail system should include commuter rail connections
Participants at each forum discussed the need for some sort of commuter rail service connecting the principal cities to outlying areas, particularly Detroit, Ann Arbor, Flint and Grand Rapids.  These discussions included a direct rail connection to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW).

Michigan’s passenger rail system should connect to Toledo
Connecting Michigan’s existing passenger rail system to Toledo came up at each forum.  Participants discussed that one must travel to Chicago — or by motor coach to Toledo — to travel to points east such as New York.  Connecting Toledo to the Wolverine at Ann Arbor or Detroit was typically suggested.

More information, including photos of all of the participant-created maps, as well as local news articles covering many of the forums, is available at www.michiganbyrail.org.

Tim Fischer, Deputy Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council

The full Michigan By Rail Summary Report is available online as a PDF file for viewing, downloading, or printing at:

https://docs.google.com/leaf?id=0B4-NVz7r7dNBOTBmODg4YWUtMmE2Ni00NjkzLThkNDAtODA3YTRmOGE1NDNi&hl=en_US

AMTRAK_Ann_Arbor.JPGPassengers wait for a train at Ann Arbor’s Amtrak station. Ypsilanti officials are considering whether to ask the passenger rail carrier to add a stop in Depot Town. 

File photo

The question was posed by an audience member at the Michigan By Rail‘s forum Dec. 9 at Washtenaw Community College: Why doesn’t the Amtrak train stop in Ypsilanti?

After the meeting, Derrick James, Amtrak’s senior director of government affairs for the Midwest, approached Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber and told him the first step was for the city simply to ask.

And so on Tuesday, the Ypsilanti City Council will consider a resolution asking Amtrak to explore adding a stop in Ypsilanti. The effort is separate from the planned Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, which was originally scheduled to start running in October, but was delayed because of logistical and funding issues.

The council’s resolution to approach Amtrak Midwest’s government affairs office would start the process to get an Ypsilanti stop, said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman. Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation would have to seek approval from Norfolk-Southern Railroad, the freight train company that owns the rail lines, and make sure the new stop wouldn’t interfere with freight traffic.

Amtrak also would conduct an economic analysis to determine whether an Ypsilanti stop would be beneficial to its service. One of the concerns Magliari noted is the proximity of train stops in Ann Arbor and Dearborn.

Depot Town “is very attractive, but you are also very close to other stations,” he said.

Depot Town currently doesn’t have a place where a train can stop. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and MDOT are funding a 300-foot platform with a kiosk on the west side of the tracks, and the Ypsilanti Freighthouse is inching closer to opening at least part of its historic structure, which includes a bathroom and a cafe.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said existing plans slated the platform for completion in late spring or early summer, but she said that could change with a new administration in Lansing. Officials are still waiting on approval of the platform’s environmental assessment, and after that the parties must figure out the process for issuing a request for proposals.

City Manager Ed Koryzno said a design for the Freighthouse’s cafe still must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, which is funding the project. He said he hopes the cafe will open when the platform does, or just after.

Amtrak trains’ last roundtrip stops in Ypsilanti came in 1982, although the eastbound train stopped in Depot Town until 1984. Magliari said that line, the Michigan Executive, was a remnant of the commuter train that connected Detroit with western suburbs and cities up until 1975. As Amtrak focused more on inter-city connection instead of commuter, or suburb-to-city lines, it phased out the Ypsilanti stop, Magliari said.

The Wolverine train runs three times daily each direction between Chicago and Pontiac. In 2010, the line saw its ridership increase by 8 percent from 444,000 to 476,000 passengers. Ticket revenues on the line also jumped by 12 percent and Amtrak recorded its best annual figures in fiscal year 2010 with 28 million riders.

Magliari said rail grants offered by the federal government since 2008 have resulted in an increased number of local governments seeking a stop in their community. Schreiber said most residents he has spoken with strongly support the idea of trains stopping in Ypsilanti again.

“I think there’s a lot of people who would like to see a train stop in Depot Town,” he said. “It would help Depot Town businesses and help Ypsilanti as a whole, so you’ve got to try for it.”

http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/ypsilanti-officials-to-consider-asking-amtrak-to-stop-trains-in-depot-town/index.php


Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for AnnArbor.com. Reach the news desk at [email protected] or 734-623-2530.

Detroit light rail plan buoyed by $25M grant

By TODD SPANGLER
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

http://www.freep.com/article/20110120/NEWS01/110120057/Detroit-light-rail-plan-buoyed-by-25M-grant#ixzz1BbnQYdKm
WASHINGTON – A grant agreement signed by federal officials, the city of Detroit and the Michigan Department of Transportation should clear the way for $25 million to be spent on a 3.4-mile, 12-station light rail line connecting downtown Detroit to Grand Boulevard in New Center.

Federal Transit Administration officials announced Thursday they had signed the grant agreement which will help create the initial phase of the proposed Woodward Avenue Light Rail project in Detroit. The funding from the federal stimulus bill was granted last August, when federal officials committed to paying for an environmental impact study of the project, a key hurdle that must be crossed.

A private group of backers including Roger Penske, Mike and Marian Ilitch, Dan Gilbert, Peter Karmanos and others, had arranged for about $125 million in private funding for the rail line, which could eventually extend all the way from Hart Plaza to Eight Mile near the state fairgrounds, a total of 9.3 miles.

“Building this light rail system will create jobs for this great American city, and it will stimulate long-term economic growth by attracting investment to downtown Detroit and the New Center area,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

 

 



By: Chris McCarus
Lansing, MI
December 6, 2010
Michigan NOW

Click here to download the audio version (mp3)

Old caboose in Durand, MI (Photo courtesy of Michigan Now)

A month ago, Michigan’s congressional delegation was hailing a federal plan to send the state $161 million. It would pay for track improvements needed for high-speed passenger train service between Detroit and Chicago. All the state had to do was to approve matching money. But last week the legislature decided not to, as Chris McCarus reports for Michigan Now:

Legislators stayed up all night Thursday, December 2. It was their last chance to vote. Almost two thirds of them are term limited out. One is the leader of the Senate, Republican Mike Bishop from Rochester Hills:

[Bishop] “As a Republican I’ve stuck my neck out on the transit issue.”

The director of the Michigan Department of Transportation stuck his neck out too. Kirk Steudle’s team spent six months figuring out the engineering and the financing for high speed rail:

[Steudle] “It’s my job as a transportation professional of 25 years in this field to say here’s what’s happening and here’s how we can make this work better. But at the end of the day it’s still governed by legislative action.”

MDOT director Steudle planned for the state to sell $45 million in bonds. The federal government has been waiting to see the state match. Then it would send $161 million to Lansing. The state house approved MDOT’s plan a month ago. Senate Majority leader Bishop had said he would let his chamber vote on the issue too:

[Bishop] “I don’t ask the state taxpayers to finance anything unless a business plan is presented that gives us some indication that it brings value.”

But, apparently, a four-to-one return wasn’t enough. Maybe not even the bonus where the feds would give Michigan a shot at hundreds of millions more without requiring another match. What did Republican senator Roger Kahn of Saginaw think of the bill Thursday night?

[Kahn] “I don’t know what’s going on with that bill. I’ll have to see more about it. Because it’s not from up my way I haven’t tracked it closely.”

Ohio and Wisconsin were supposed to get $1.2 billion for high speed rail. But their new Tea Party elect governors say they want the money for roads. The Obama Administration says this money is for rail only. So it will give the $1.2 billion to someone else. The Michigan house expected the Senate to follow its lead and approve the $45 million. Then Michigan could compete with a few other states for the big prize.

[Kahn] “Who pays for the bonds?”

Asked Senator Roger Kahn. The answer is: taxpayers.

[Kahn] “Thank you.”

Said Senator Kahn, who’s a medical doctor. Yet the $45 million would be just one percent of MDOT’s $3 billion budget. Kahn and his colleagues already approved that. Fellow Republican Ron Jelinek is from Three Oaks in Berrien County. The Amtrak train passes about a mile away from his farm. As midnight Thursday approached, there was no sign that the Senate Majority Leader was going to hold a vote on the rail bonding bill:

[Jelinek] “Well I don’t know if it’s coming up or what or not or what’s happening. I haven’t seen the calendar so I don’t know.”

[McCarus] “Are you familiar with the bill?”

[Jelinek] “Yeah I am. But I haven’t seen what’s happening, if it’s on the agenda or not. So I can’t say.”

[McCarus] “It passes through your district. Would you vote for it if it comes up?

[Jelinek] “Yes it does pass through my district. We’ve been working on a high speed rail for a number of years. Look forward to that.”

[McCarus] “Would you vote for this bill?”

[Jelinek] “When I see it. I have to see it.”

Jelinek never saw the bill. No senator did. A couple legislators and several pro-transit groups had been working on the high speed rail plans.

[Grant] “The legislature failing to act is really putting us at a competitive disadvantage to the other states. It’s saying we’re stuck in the past.”

Cece Grant is a native Detroiter. She spent two years in Washington D.C. with Transportation for America. In July, she came home to be their Michigan organizer. Grant wishes transit were more than just eight percent of MDOT’s budget:

[Grant] “There’s no way for your employees to get back and forth to work. We’re not a mobile society. We don’t have bustling thriving downtowns.”

Railway advocates like Cece Grant are pessimistic about the new legislature and maybe optimistic about the new governor. They’ll all have to pass laws quickly before The White House lumps Michigan in the same group as Ohio and Wisconsin.

 

© Copyright 2010, WMUK

http://www.annarbor.com/news/ann-arbor-area-residents-invited-to-help-map-michigans-future-rail-system/

Posted: Dec 1, 2010 at 8:04 AM [Dec 1, 2010]

Ann Arbor area residents are being asked to give their input on what Michigan’s future passenger rail system should look like and how it should operate.

Would Southeast Michigan benefit from a modern commuter rail system — one linking Ann Arbor and Detroit? Similarly, should the state continue pushing ahead with plans for a high-speed rail corridor between Detroit and Chicago?

A “Michigan By Rail” public forum will be held from 6-8 p.m. Dec. 9 at Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Dr.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, and other elected officials are expected to attend and discuss all things rail with members of the public.

Sponsors of the forum include the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers and Michigan Municipal League.

The Ann Arbor forum is the latest in a series of forums being held across the state as the Michigan Department of Transportation works to put together a statewide rail plan, according to the Michigan By Rail website.

The forums, including the one in Ann Arbor, are not official input sessions of MDOT, but rather are being held in an effort to engage citizens in discussions about their vision for the state’s passenger and freight rail systems, according to organizers.

Next week’s forum will include an overview of the existing system, an interactive rail mapping session, discussion of financing issues and a big-picture vision of the future of Michigan’s railroad system. Click here to RSVP via Facebook.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at [email protected] or 734-623-2529.

HB 6484 Rail Bonding bill update. This bill failed to clear the state Senate last night/early this morning. There appeared to be no real opposition to the bill - it just did not have the active support that it had in the state House.

The good news is that there was a tremendous show of support from all across the state with over 500 calls to state Senators and hundreds of letters and emails urging passage of this bill.  The Senators and their staff were familiar with this bill and understood the issues because of these contacts.  Also, some key supporters in the state House will transition to the state Senate in January.  We have primed the pump for victory on this issue in the next legislative session.

Will this doom Michigan’s chances for $161 million in federal HSR grants?  Likely not, yet.  MDOT estimates that if Michigan can come up with the match money - about $37 million - by the spring we won’t loose out on capturing this money.

Michigan did, however, miss an opportunity to demonstrate to the USDOT that we are serious about passenger rail, ready to invest some of our own money in our own system and ready to put to good use the $1.4 Billion in HSR grants that WI and OH are rejecting.

It is rather frustrating for those of us who spent countless days working this bill.  However, we will work this issue again starting in January and fully expect a successful outcome.  Thank you to everyone who spoke with their legislators - it really did make a big difference.

 

HB 6484 passed out of the state House of Representatives late last night.  This bill authorizes up to $100 million of state construction bonds to be used to cover the necessary state match requirement to receive the $160 million federal high-speed rail grant awarded to Michigan’s Detroit to Chicago passenger rail corridor late last month.

In addition to providing funds for our grant match, the bill also would allow for funds to be made available for other state passenger rail infrastructure projects, whether that be to match future federal awards, support new commuter or light rail projects, or fund passenger rail infrastructure needs along Michigan’s other rail corridors.

It is critical that this bill pass the state Senate when they reconvene in December in order for Michigan to receive the federal HSR money and fund other passenger rail projects being planned in the state.  Please contact your state Senator and ask them to support HB 6484.  Here is a letter template you can use:

 

INSERT YOUR NAME

ADDRESS

 

November 15, 2010

The Honorable (INSERT FULL NAME.  Find your Senator here: http://senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm)

State Senator

State Capitol

P.O. Box 30036

Lansing, MI 48909-7536

Re:      Please Support HB 6484 – the Rail Bonding bill

Dear Senator (INSERT SENATOR’S LAST NAME.  Find your Senator here: http://senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm):

I write to encourage you to support HB 6484.  This bill – introduced by Representative Wayne Schmidt – authorizes up to $100 million of state construction bonds to be used to cover the necessary state match requirement to receive the $160 million federal high-speed rail grant awarded to Michigan’s Detroit to Chicago passenger rail corridor late last month.

In addition to providing funds for our grant match, the bill also would allow for funds to be made available for other state passenger rail infrastructure projects, whether that be to match future federal awards, support new commuter or light rail projects, or fund passenger rail infrastructure needs along Michigan’s other rail corridors.

It passed the House with bi-partisan support on November 10, 2010 with 67 voting in favor.

Please ask Leader Bishop to bring HB 6484 up for a vote and help pass it.

Sincerely,

XYZ

Here is the word document that you can download and alter:

Dear Senator HB 6484

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