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E-M:/ Trains Arriving in Metro Detroit

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Kelly Thayer -------------------------------------------------------------------------
August 9, 2000

From: Kelly Thayer
Transportation Project Coordinator
Michigan Land Use Institute


MDOT Is Missing the Train
State Pursues Billion-dollar Highway Widenings While Train Studies Show Promise for Metro Detroit and Southern Michigan

The Detroit News carries an article today about the state's plan to spend $1.3 billion to widen 8 miles of I-94 in Detroit -- one of the largest construction projects in state history.

While the article doesn't mention it, just managing traffic flow during construction would cost between $130 million and $260 million, according to an interview I conducted with the Michigan Department of Transportation in 1999.

These are hard sums to conceive of, unless of course you are a professional sports figure. So the question arises,
"What altrenatives could travelers in metropolitan Detroit be getting for their money?"

Regional Commuter Rail in Detroit
One answer: Just under $130 million would pay for comprehensive regional commuter rail in metro Detroit, according to a 1997 study by MDOT. The money would build 30 train stations and upgrade 100 miles of track along three routes connecting Detroit to Ann Arbor, Pontiac, and Mt. Clemens -- with many stops along the way. And, oh yes, this would cover the cost of the trains too. The rail system would serve 19,000 passengers a day, with 14 daily trains on each line, and would cost only $23.4 million to operate annually.

Among its many benefits, metro Detroit's commuter rail system would:
* Generate $1.1 billion in economic benefit.
* Conserve about 500,000 gallons of motor vehicle fuel each year.
* Reduce congestion on Detroit’s overburdened highways.

For more information, or a copy of the summary report called “Regional Passenger Rail — A Concept for Southeastern Michigan,” contact Carmine Palombo, Director of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, (313) 961-4266 or via e-mail at <palombo@semcog.org>
Also, see the Michigan Land Use Institute's web site at:


If Detroit highway widenings seem like a dead end, consider attending:

Detroit Transit Visioning Session -- Thursday, Aug. 10
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments will hold a "Transit Visioning Session" for Metro Detroit on Aug. 10 at the Cobo Conference Center. Sessions will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Registration is required. For more information, call SEMCOG at (313) 961-4266.

Also, contact these groups for more information about improving transportation for everyone in Detroit:
MOSES - Metropolitan Organizing Strategy for Enabling Strength, Janice Joseph, (313) 838-3190
TRU - Transportation Riders United. Karen Kendrick-Hands, (313) 885-7588, http://www.marp.org/tru.htm
DWEJ - Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice
Terrace Lang, (313) 821-1064
Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition -
A statewide transportation choices coalition run by the Institute. Kelly Thayer, (231) 882-4723


Three Other Rail Initiatives are Targeting Detroit
Keep in mind that three other rail initiatives are targeting Detroit, and further weaken the case for more of the same old widened highways, which fill up with cars almost the moment they're opened:

*Passenger Rail between Detroit and Detroit Metropolitan Airport
A $200,000 federally funded study began in late 1999 to look at the possibility of commuter rail service between Detroit Metropolitan Airport and downtown Detroit. The study, coordinated by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, will examine the rail line's potential ridership and cost, its overall route, and where specifically it would go downtown and at the airport.
For more details, contact SEMCOG (see above) and visit the Institute's web site: http://www.mlui.org/projects/transport/detroit/airportrail.html

*Passenger Rail Between Detroit and Lansing
In March 1999, The Capital Area Transportation Authority, in Lansing, began a study of passenger rail service between Detroit and Lansing. According to statistics released last week, the Lansing to Detroit Passenger Rail Study suggests that once the service begins in 2005, some 411,134 riders could use the service in the first year for a daily passenger load of 1,100. By the year 2030, the study projects that ridership could increase to 741,666.

For more information about the Lansing to Detroit Passenger Rail Study, visit the Capital Area Transportation Authority’s Internet site: http://www.cata.org/rail1.html
And the Institute's site at:

*Midwest High-Speed Rail Connecting Detroit and Southern Michigan with Six Other States
With funding from Michigan and the federal government, Amtrak is working to speed up its rail service to 110 mph between Detroit and Chicago. The goal is a trip time of less than 3.5 hours. The upgraded rail service is expected to be faster and more convenient than driving. And it will be competitive with the cost and time required to fly between the cities, when time is considered for travel to and from the airports, the delay to board and exit the aircraft, and the wait to check and retrieve baggage.The Detroit-Chicago high-speed rail line is slated to be a link in the Midwest High-speed Rail Network. The rail network will extend to cities including Milwaukee, Minneapolis, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
For more details, go to the web site of the Environmental Law & Policy Center at: http://www.elpc.org/
And see the Institute's web site at:


Mr. Kelly Thayer
Transportation Project Coordinator
Michigan Land Use Institute
P.O. Box 228
845 Michigan Ave.
Benzonia, MI 49616

Ph: 231-882-4723
Fax: 231-882-7350
E-mail: kelly@mlui.org
Internet: http://www.mlui.org

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