U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced yesterday a final agreement had been reached to provide $15.8 million for the West Detroit Connection Track project, which is designed to eliminate congestion for Detroit-area Amtrak riders by addressing a freight- and passenger-rail bottleneck.
The Federal Railroad Administration will provide a $7.9 million grant, which the state of Michigan will match. The project is set to begin construction later this year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT).
The project calls for building new track to separate freight and passenger trains. The Amtrak Wolverine service, which provides three daily round trips between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, Mich., will use the new track. West Detroit Junction is a key link between Dearborn Station and the Detroit New Center Station.
“In eliminating a longstanding bottleneck, we are creating capacity to handle future rail demand as our population grows, while strengthening the foundation for economic development across the region,” said LaHood in a prepared statement.
West Detroit Junction also is a key part of the Chicago-to-Detroit line, which has garnered nearly $400 million in federal dollars in the state of Michigan under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
Trains operating on the line now reach speeds of 110 mph between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich., and are expected to reach 110 mph on 80 percent of the line by 2016, USDOT officials said.
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