U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today awarded $150 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) for a high-speed rail project that will increase the safety and reliability of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago and put more than 800 Americans back to work this spring.
"With America's population set to grow by 100 million over the next 40 years, high-speed rail will play a vital role in meeting America's long-term transportation challenges," said Secretary LaHood. "Projects like this will employ local workers, use American-made materials and lay a strong foundation for future economic growth."
The grant will enable MDOT to acquire ownership over much of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac High Speed Rail Corridor within the State of Michigan and pave the way for them to begin a track and signal improvement project between Detroit and Kalamazoo, Mich., in the spring of 2012. These improvements will allow for speeds 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 times between those destinations. Previously announced FRA investments in the line include 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 corridor will also benefit from next-generation American-made trains, funded as part of a previously announced $782 million grant that will pump new life into domestic manufacturing. States will purchase 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars to operate in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon.
Michigan is among 32 states throughout the United States and the District of Columbia that are laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors that will link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options. To date, the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $10.1 billion to put American communities on track towards new and expanded rail access and improved reliability, speed and frequency of existing service.