Following a leak early last week, leading government officials formally announced that Michigan has received millions of dollars in funding to improve and develop high-speed transportation between cities.
On Tuesday, United States Rep. John Dingell (D–Mich.) announced that the U.S Department of Transportation awarded a $150 million federal grant to the state of Michigan in an effort to improve transportation within the state. The grant is intended to restore the 135-mile long railway that runs from Dearborn-to-Kalamazoo on the Amtrak Chicago line.
Of the grant, $3.2 million was allocated for planning and analysis of the Norfolk Sourthern railway corridor. The restoration will help trains reach high speeds up to 110 miles per hour.
The state also received $7.9 million for the West Detroit Connection Project — a project that will merge the Chicago-Detroit High Speed Rail with the Detroit New Center Station, as well as an Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter service rail.
Southeast Michigan is the only major metropolitan area without a major transit system.
Though the announcements to revamp the area’s transportation come in the weeks leading up to Election Day, Dingell’s press secretary wrote in an e-mail interview that the grants have nothing to do with Dingell’s campaign. Dingell is facing a challenge to seat from Republican Rob Steele.
While the 2010 High Speed Passenger Intercity Rail Program Grant is not being funded through the stimulus package, it is the first annual appropriation from the Obama administration through a grant known as TIGER II. In total, the Department of Transportation has awarded $600 million in TIGER II discretionary grants to Michigan’s 15th district, where Ann Arbor is located.
Other states have also received large amounts of federal funding for railway projects. Florida and California received the largest grants for bullet train projects, with Florida receiving $800 million and California netting $902 million. Iowa and Illinois received $236 million collectively to extend Amtrak service to Iowa City.
In an e-mail statement, Dingell wrote that the grants money will not only improve the rail transportation system but will also create job opportunities. In total the federal government granted the high-speed rail project $161 million.
“This investment will create nearly 1,200 jobs. It will also lead to permanent improvements to our railways, which we need to compete with other states and other countries to attract business,” Dingell wrote. “High-speed rail holds tremendous promise to better the quality of life for the people of Southeast Michigan.”
Michigan residents should have multiple options when opting for public transportation, Dingell wrote.
“I have long been a champion of high-speed rail because I believe Michigan residents want alternative transit options,” he wrote.
Dingell added that the grants “will make Detroit to Chicago High-Speed rail a reality.”
“We have seen in China and Japan how highly utilized high-speed rail is, and the way businesses and housing have sprung up around the lines,” Dingell wrote.
Dingell also recently announced a $1.7 million grant to purchase 10 new, clean energy vehicles to be utilized by TheRide, the bus transportation system that services the Ann Arbor area. The Clean Fuels Bus and Bus Facilities Program gave this grant as a way to maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone and carbon monoxide.
With the new purchases, 41 of the 78 buses used by TheRide will be hybrids. In the past, operating these hybrid vehicles saved TheRide over 100,000 gallons of fuel and $270,000 in fuel costs, Benson said in an e-mail.
The installment of these buses spearhead emerging clean fuel technologies for transit buses, Benson added.