By SHERRI KOLADE
DEARBORN — The public will soon have a faster train route to travel to Chicago, if the Intermodal Passenger Rail Station opens, as scheduled, by the fall.
During a Jan. 15 City Council meeting, councilors unanimously approved access and easement agreements with shipping and transportation company Norfolk Southern Corp., headquartered in Norfolk, Va. and The Henry Ford.
The agreements award up to $500,000 — from the $28.2 million Federal Railroad Administration Intermodal Passenger Rail Station grant — to fund the construction of a Greenfield Village internal railroad coaling tower.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funded the Intermodal Passenger Rail Station.
The act allocated the money to the FRA High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, which solicits applications and proposals for its rail program, according to its website, www.fra.dot.gov.
Amtrak will operate the seven-acre 16,000-square-foot station, being built on Michigan Avenue between Southfield and Brady. The station will serve the transportation needs and interests of local and regional commuters, passengers and tourists.
The existing service on Amtrak’s Wolverine Line from Pontiac to Detroit will be transformed to a high-speed service between Detroit and Chicago, according to a city of Dearborn press release. The proposed commuter rail line will run between Ann Arbor and Detroit.
City Economic and Community Development Director Barry Murray said The Henry Ford will let the city construct various entryways for the system.
The access and easement agreements give the city permission to use a portion of the Henry Ford property to install, build and operate a tower, platforms, plaza, walkways, bridge, and landscaping to accommodate the public’s use of the rail station.
Some of the intermodal aspects of the system are pedestrian friendly stations, along with inter-connectivity between buses, corporate and hotel shuttles, taxis, personal vehicles and bike racks. The idea is still being finalized, Dearborn Public Information Director Mary Laundroche said.
Other features include easy access to The Henry Ford, Rouge River Gateway Trail, west Dearborn and the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus. Construction began in March.
O’Reilly said during a Jan. 15 business event that a task force has been created to hear residents’ opinions about transit-oriented development.
“We want to relocate the current Amtrak station because it hasn’t been working even before the money was available,” O’Reilly said in January. “(We are) working to move it to where it needs to be, as a new interest to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village.”