Sunday, March 17, 2013

SE Michigan Commuter Rail Updates

At the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's Planning and Development Committee this week, we got updates from Michael Benham on the two commuter rail projects in southeast Michigan.


AATA is administering a grant to develop the stations along the WALLY route from Howell to Ann Arbor. Although generic stations were outlined in the initial engineering study, each station needs to be customized for its actual location, and some locations haven't actually been determined in some cases.
The first station to be focused on will be the downtown Ann Arbor station. Of course, that depends on negotiations with Watco, the new owners of the Ann Arbor Railroad, and we learned that discussions are now beginning with the Watco managers.


ANNDE is my name - to match WALLY - for the Ann Arbor - Detroit commuter line. (Hope you like it!) For several years now, there's been a desire to have demonstration trains; the first was to have connected the Toronto hockey fans coming to Michigan Stadium to see the Maple Leafs be defeated by the Detroit Redwings (well, that was the Michigan perspective!). Whether it would have worked if the hockey season hadn't been canceled is a moot point. Naturally, baseball season seemed like the next opportunity to bring people to a game by train, but SEMCOG folks are now saying they think the next Hockey season will be the first realistic opportunity to show off the MiTrain setup in action.
Meanwhile, there's still the possibility of letting people get in the cars and see how nice they are. (I had a chance to do that a year ago!) "Static displays" (the official expression) are being planned, and one place being mentioned for that is the Ypsilanti Freight House siding. This Grandpa will definitely try to take his grandkids if that happens!
Of course a train needs track to run on. In theory, ANNDE has the track it needs; in practice, it would be difficult to schedule five trains each way every day because, for most of the distance, there's only one track. Fortunately, federal grants for high-speed rail are allocated and - I believe - obligated for restoring double-track to the stretch from Dearborn to just east of Ypsilanti. That will make the desired schedules feasible, and we learned that work is to begin this summer. It's expected to take a couple of years to finish the project, so we're not likely to see commuter service before that.

Slow but steady

Both of these projects seem to be moving quite slowly, but in fact they're going about as fast as most such efforts. Typically commuter rail projects in the U.S. have taken about ten years from the first official proposal to the first revenue service. Both WALLY and ANNDE were proposed in 2006, so at seven years into the process, we actually have a fair amount to show. Of course, funding operations is still a bridge marked "to be crossed later". We can't expect much in federal operating funds, so we must be prepared to push for state and local funding.

1 comment:

  1. Soon after look at a couple of of the weblog posts on your web website now, and I actually like your indicates of running a blog. I bookmarked it to my bookmark world wide web site document and will most likely be examining once again soon. Make sure you check out my web web site as effectively and allow me know what you think.
    limousine service in Dallas, Texas
    Dallas Limousine service