Michigan by Rail presents coast-to-coast plan

Photo by Zeinab Najm. City of Dearborn Director of Economic and Community Development Barry Murray discusses the Michigan by Rail coast-to-coast passenger rail study at a public meeting at the John D. Dingell Transit Center July 23.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. City of Dearborn Director of Economic and Community Development Barry Murray discusses the Michigan by Rail coast-to-coast passenger rail study at a public meeting at the John D. Dingell Transit Center July 23.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Michigan by Rail shared its plan for the state’s fresh water coasts train travel study to reconnect passenger rail travel between Detroit and Holland within 10 years.

The coast-to-coast passenger rail route will include stops in Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Howell, Jackson, Lansing and Grand Rapids.

During the meeting held at the John D. Dingell Transit Center July 23, Michigan Environmental Council Policy Associate Elizabeth Treutel said the study will explore three possible routes to link the cities across the state, all passing through Dearborn.

This study and possible project would re-establish the passenger rail service between Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids that ended in 1971.

The coast-to-coast line is designed ignite new partnerships between medical centers, increase tourist travel, connect sports venues and 12 colleges and universities, provide workers access to jobs and encourage travel for arts and entertainment experiences.

“The rail project is to increase economic development within the communities,” Treutel said. “Dearborn is a great hub with the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford Museum so close to the transit center.

The study also will explore the high-speed passenger rail possibility, for which Dearborn is already preparing.

“Dearborn is currently upgrading its grade crossings, signals and adding a second track to prepare for high-speed rail,” Dearborn Director of Economic and Community Development Barry Murray said. “The upgrades will allow for the 110 mph trains to travel through Dearborn and cut travel time between here and Chicago.”

The study aims to understand the ridership demand and cost feasibility of re-establishing passenger rail between the state’s coasts.

It will also analyze travel patterns, population demographic trends, cost estimates and existing conditions of rail infrastructure to examine the possibility for new passenger rail service.

The study is being managed by Michigan Environmental Council through a partnership with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

A $80,000 federal grant awarded to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and $20,000 in contributions from various groups across the state made the study possible.

“A final report will be completed by December of this year, but the service should be running by 2024,” Treutel said. “It is a lengthy process because of technical, design and engineering planning.”

The next round of informational public meetings will begin taking place in September and will include college and university campuses along the possible rail route.

For more information on the study go to mibyrail.org.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)

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