Slow progress on high-speed rail
From the September, 2019 issue
A legacy of the Great Recession is still inching toward Ann Arbor. The Obama stimulus package included nearly $1 billion for high-speed rail in Michigan, roughly divided between track improvements and new engines and passenger cars. Both were supposed to be in service by the mid 2010s.
The new engines are finally rolling, but the track work and cars are running years late. "The current implementation schedule has Summer of 2020 as a target date," emails Michigan Department of Transportation communications manager Michael Frezell. "The segment between Jackson and Ypsilanti still needs a track upgrade. Without that track upgrade, 110 MPH maximum speed will be west of Jackson and near Willow Run Airport to the east of Ann Arbor."
The passenger cars were derailed when the original contractor's bi-level prototype failed safety tests. Frezell says a new vendor should begin delivery of single-level cars next summer. They'll run between Detroit and Chicago on the same schedule Amtrak has followed for decades: three trains a day each way.
The number of trains was supposed to triple by 2017. But "MDOT does not have a timeline on this effort as it is contingent on funding availability," Frezell writes. "We are currently focused on enhancing the existing service."
[Originally published in September, 2019.]
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