High-Speed Rail: Florida's Loss is Michigan's Gain

From the Detroit Free Press:

Michigan will get $200 million to upgrade rail lines and a share of another $336 million for new high-performance trains and other equipment to build a high-speed rail network between Detroit and Chicago, the Obama administration announced today.

The federal government is awarding $2 billion to expand high-speed rail nationwide, money that Florida turned back earlier this year, and Michigan was one of 24 states competing for the funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation said 15 states and Amtrak will receive money for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects that the government said will connect 80% of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years.

This is part of an important step the Obama Administration is taking to promote environmentally friendly travel - and the latest in a string of victories for Michigan eco-advocates, who last week helped Grand Rapids and other cities expand their public transit systems.

By turning down Florida's share of the money, Gov. Rick Scott did not simply stop this investment from being made. Instead, the money would simply be reassigned to other states. Tiday we learned that Michigan would be one of those states.

How will the funds be used?

The largest share of Michigan’s money, $196.5 million, will go to rehabilitate track and signals on a 235-mile section between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. In addition, Michigan and several other Midwest states including Illinois and Indiana will share $268.2 million to pay for 48 high-performance passenger rail cars and seven quick-acceleration locomotives.

These days, it is important for businesses and people to be able to move from one place to another quickly and with little cost. Since the majority of us Michiganians (NOT Michiganders, if you ask me!) live within 15 miles of an Amtrak station, this investment will be very helpful.

This news comes less than a week after voters in Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Kentwood, Wyoming, Walker, and Grandville passed a millage increase to expand public transportation in the Grand Rapids metro area. The millage passed by a margin of 17,284-17,148. Other localities in the state passed similar measures last week.

No comments: