A study by the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative states upgrading passenger rail service across the Midwest could provide up to $719 million in investment, $3.5 billion in user benefits to Michigan, 6,970 new jobs, more transportation choices and a significant reduction in pollution.
Nine states from across the Midwest, including Michigan, are part of the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, which is pushing for the creation of a 3,000-mile Midwest Regional Rail System, similar to systems on the east coast. Trains running out of a hub in Chicago would travel to nine Midwest states at speeds up to 110 mph, making travel times competitive with driving.
The proposed system would have three routes in Michigan that would connect Chicago to Metro Detroit, Port Huron and Grand Rapids. The study estimates the system would generate $23.1 in user benefits, such as time savings, and $4.9 billion in investment in the Midwest during the project's first 40 years. Of that, Metro Detroit could see as much as $315 million in user benefits.
Passenger rail service, provided by Amtrak, ridership in Michigan has increased steadily wince 2002 from 447,000 passengers to 673,000 passengers in 2006. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is also moving forward with plans to create a commuter rail line connecting Detroit, Dearborn, Metro Airport, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor by the end of this year.
For information on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative study, visit michigan.gov/mdot/0,1607,7-151-11056---,00.html.
Source: Michigan Department of Transportation