October 10, 2011

Michigan awarded $197M for track, signal upgrades

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was awarded a $196.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for track and signal improvements between Detroit and Kalamazoo, Mich.

These improvements will allow for speeds of 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 time between those destinations.  

Dollars for this 135-mile segment between Detroit and Kalamazoo will support preliminary engineering, final design and construction. The project includes 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 project will create approximately 800 new jobs during the construction phase, which is expected to begin late spring 2012, and will facilitate service to current and future freight rail customers, including major shippers like Ford Motor Co.

In addition, MDOT is designated to receive a $150 million DOT grant later this year to purchase this 135-mile segment of track, when grant conditions are met. This will allow for the implementation of 110-mph service along the corridor that will bring improved passenger service, ensure capacity for freight operations through double tracking on the busiest freight segment and deliver long-term economic benefits in Michigan.

The Wolverine and Blue Water routes are part of the Midwest rail network, which has a population base of about 29 million people 100miles to 500 miles from one another. Midwestern states have been working cooperatively together to plan and further develop an integrated, multi-state passenger rail network.

In addition to the goal of expanding service to new cities, trains in the system will travel at 110 mph on the primary routes and 90 mph on secondary lines, reducing travel time, and increasing reliability and on-time performance.

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