[Date Prev][Date Next][Date Index]

E-M:/ High Speed Rail/ISTEA Update

Enviro-Mich message from "Alex J. Sagady & Associates" <ajs@sagady.com>

Date: Wed, 03 Jun 1998 18:07:46 -0400
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
From: Sally Billups <billupss@pilot.msu.edu>
Subject: High-speed rail/ISTEA update
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
X-MIME-Autoconverted: from quoted-printable to 8bit by
superior.great-lakes.net id SAA15742


On May 22, 1998, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives
passed the final reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act, or ISTEA.  The Michigan Environmental Council has been
working with environmental, industry, and other advocacy groups to ensure
the final ISTEA legislation (ISTEA II) was supportive of high-speed rail in
the Midwest. 

What's in ISTEA II for high-speed rail development in Michigan? 

 Grade Crossing Hazard Elimination Program reauthorized at $5.25 million
per year from the highway trust fund and $15 million per year authorized
from the General Fund.  

Grade crossing improvements are an essential step of high-speed rail
projects to protect both train and automobile passengers.  Michigan
projects already funded under this program include improving or closing 48
grade crossings along the Detroit to Chicago high-speed rail corridor.  

 Innovative Financing was authorized at approximately $530 million over
six years to provide federal loan guarantees for revenue-producing
transportation projects.  The authorization is expected to leverage up to
$10 billion in private capital.  

This innovative financing tool could be used to finance part of high-speed
rail project costs in Michigan and the Midwest, because passenger revenues
are expected to exceed operating costs for such service in the Midwest (and
would be consider "revenue producing projects.")

 Swift Rail Development Act reauthorized at $35 million per year for four

This program funds the Federal Railroad Adminstration's work to develop
high-speed rail technology and to support state high-speed rail studies.
This program already funded the development of state-of-the-art train
signal programs for high-speed rail in western Michigan.  

 Flexibility for states to use highway and surface transportation funds
for high-speed passenger rail was prohibited.  This is very unfortunate
because the State of Michigan has stated that it would make larger
investments in the Detroit-Chicago high-speed rail corridor if it had this


All but one member of the Michigan delegation have been on record in
support of high-speed rail development and should be acknowledged for their
continued support.  Policy makers from Michigan that deserve special
recognition for their efforts to promote high-speed rail through ISTEA
reauthorization include: 

 Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-Grand Rapids) for his notable leadership
and commitment to promoting high-speed rail through ISTEA reauthorization.  

 Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Detroit) for sponsoring a
high-speed rail forum at the Cobo Center in Detroit in February 1998.

 Senator Carl Levin (D-Detroit) for sending a joint letter with other
Midwest Senators to the conference committee calling for specific
provisions to support high-speed rail in the final ISTEA legislation.

 Governor Engler (R-Mt. Pleasant) for sending a joint letter with 20 other
governors to the conference committee calling for the flexibility to spend
transportation dollars on intercity passenger rail.  Also, the Michigan
Department of Transportation has been very supportive of high-speed
development along the Detroit to Chicago corridor - making it the first
state out of the Northeast to have higher speed train service.  

 State Senator John Schwarz (R-Battle Creek) for his valuable knowledge
and support for bringing high-speed rail service to Michigan.  

For more information, contact:

Sally Billups, Policy Specialist
High-Speed Rail Project
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539 / 9541 (fax)

Dave Dempsey
Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Suite 2A
Lansing, MI 48912

ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
and Conservation Issues and Michigan-based Citizen Action.   Archives at

Postings to:  enviro-mich@great-lakes.net      For info, send email to
majordomo@great-lakes.net  with a one-line message body of  "info enviro-mich"