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Three states seek ARRA funds for HSR projects

Yesterday, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has applied for $800 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to establish high-speed rail (HSR) service on the Amtrak Wolverine Line between Pontiac, Detroit and Chicago.

Proceeds would be used during the next two years on "shovel ready" projects, including track and train control system improvements, and station construction and renovation work.

MDOT has worked closely with freight railroads the past few years to develop the Wolverine corridor. Trains currently operate at speeds up to 95 mph between Kalamazoo and Niles, and are expected to operate at 110 mph by 2009's end. ARRA funds would enable MDOT to expand train control technology and foster increased train speeds east of Kalamazoo as Amtrak adds train control and increases train speeds west to Porter, Ind.

"We want to shorten the time it takes to travel from Detroit to Chicago to four hours and increase the frequency of that trip to nine times a day," said Granholm in a prepared statement.

In July, Granholm signed a memorandum of understanding among eight states, which are working jointly to fund the Midwest Corridor HSR plan. The initiative would include a Detroit-Pontiac-Chicago line.

Meanwhile, the Maryland Department of Transportation plans to apply for $360 million in ARRA funding to improve Amtrak and MARC passenger-rail lines, and pursue HSR service.

Proceeds would fund the study, engineering or construction of various projects, including a tunnel replacement in Baltimore; the modernization and expansion of the Baltimore Washington International Airport station, platform and tracks; construction of a new rail yard to relieve congestion at Union Station; reconstruction of several aging rail bridges; and installation of a GPS-based train-locating system for the Amtrak/MARC Penn and Brunswick lines.

Finally, the commonwealth of Virginia has applied for $74.8 million in ARRA funds for the Arkendale-to-Powell's Creek portion of the I-95 HSR corridor. The project calls for building 11.4 miles of third track to reduce freight- and passenger-rail conflicts, and establish 90 mph intercity passenger-rail service.

The commonwealth worked in conjunction with Amtrak, CSX Transportation and Virginia Railway Express to complete the ARRA application.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/25/2009