Update on the Ann Arbor – Detroit rail line

Remember the East – West commuter rail line that’s supposed to connect Ann Arbor and Deroit, with stops in Ypsi and Dearborn? Remember how the Governor said that it will happen before October 25, 2010, when her term comes to an end? Well, acording to a report issued today by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), they’re on schedule to see it happen. Here’s the report in its entirety.


And, here, for those of you new to the story, is a background video put together by the folks at SEMCOG.

Those of you interested in learning more can also check out these recent articles in the Michigan Daily, and on AnnArbor.com.

Oh, and has anyone figured out where to put the Ypsilanti platform yet?

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  1. Posted January 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I see these stories about the light rail between here and Detroit (with points beyond and in between), I always a) think to myself “I will believe it when I see it,” and b) chant “monorail! monorail! monorail!” ala The Simpsons.

  2. Posted January 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t doubt that a train will come rumbling down the track on the appointed date. I think it will. My concern is that the schedule will be so erratic, and the service so unpredictable that no one will consider it a reliable alternative. I’m afraid that it will fizzle after the first few weeks.

  3. Karl
    Posted January 20, 2010 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    We’ve got to make this work. The future of our region depends on it.

  4. Posted January 20, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    So, does anyone know if a decision was made yet as to where the Ypsi platform will be placed, and how we’re going to handle people crossing the tracks?

  5. Dan
    Posted January 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The Planning Commission recommended the west side

  6. Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Dan. I’ll follow the link and check it out. I’m curious to know if they discussed how the track crossing would be handled.

  7. applejack
    Posted January 29, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    I heard michigan is getting 40 million for light rail projects out of the 8 billion set aside for these projects. The three biggest chunks are going to Florida ( Tampa-Orlando-Miami), California (Anaheim-San Diego), and the Chicago-St.Loius line. The first two are getting about 2 bil each I think. 31 states over all will get some of this money, but most of it will be improving lines that already exist. I don’t think any of it will be true High-Speed rail.
    It’s nice that we’re getting some money, but what we couldn’t do with a couple billion here. This President has taken a good first step here, but this could be his interstate highway system if he would put some real money into it. Not to mention the jobs that would be created.

  8. applejack
    Posted January 30, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Permalink


    nice article on wired about the high-speed rail projects in the works

  9. Edward
    Posted February 1, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Ann Arbor dotcom has an article on the Ann Arbor – Detroit rail line. Carmine Palombo, the director of transportation programs for SEMCOG, plans to give an update on the project to the Ann Arbor City Council on Monday.


    ……Palombo said funding for the project, at an estimated cost of $60 million to $80 million in capital costs and another $8 million to $10 million per year in operating costs beyond what’s collected from riders, will come from a patchwork of sources.

    Thus far, those include several small federal grants, Federal Highway Administrationmoney, state funding through MDOT, and funding obtained by Michigan’s congressional delegation. Palumbo did not have a figure of how much has been raised to date.

    “We’ve gotten a couple dollars here and there and are passing the hat here and there and everywhere to get money for this thing,” Palombo said. “Because we don’t have a dedicated source of funding, we have to do it this way.”

    Addressing popular criticism that money earmarked for road repairs is diverted to rail, Palombo said federal highway money is strictly for planning and isn’t going toward the capital investment or operation. He added SEMCOG is hoping to see federal railroad money, some foundation money and local governments “chip in whatever they can.”

    Mayors and officials in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti said they have not been asked to invest money yet and are no position to do so.

  10. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted February 15, 2010 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    From CNN.com, about the privatly funded light rail that will take you from New Center to Downtown, the new bus station, and yes, the people mover.


  11. Lester Sutherland
    Posted February 16, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately the current proposal appears to use the existing rails, and anyone who has pulled over for a freight train when riding amtrak knows the service will not make its schedule on time. It would be better to start a bus service first and build ridership; then move to train if a reliable system becomes available. Using the old freight rails may not make this a viable system.

  12. Posted February 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Lester –

    I’ve discussed the freight preemption problem with SEMCOG in relation to this project, and it’s an acknowledged must-address issue. They, and MDOT, and Amtrak, and everyone else involved, understand that the acceptable margin of error is much much slimmer on a commuter service than on a long-haul train. On-time performance has apparently been a major part of the trackage rights discussions for this project. (I understand this to be part of why the project has been “in the works” for such a long time – as one might imagine, it has been difficult for the passenger service to extract contractual guarantees from the freight companies on this matter.)

    So, don’t write off the service just because they’re using existing rails. (At least wait and say “I told you so,” once you’ve seen what happens.)

  13. Posted February 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve raised this issues as well, and, as I recall, I remember being told by someone that the long range plans involve putting in additional rail, so that, ultimately, there would be a somewhat dedicated line. I don’t know if that’s feasible over the whole distance, given space constraints, and I know it would be extremely expensive, but I like the idea, and hope that it’s being pursued. I could live with some delays, if I knew that a more sustainable solution was in the works.

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Baker, Mark Maynard. Mark Maynard said: Update on the Ann Arbor – Detroit rail line: Remember the East – West commuter rail line that’s supposed to connec… http://bit.ly/8DBVyJ […]

  2. […] Arbor to Detroit Rail Project?  SEMCOG just posted an updated report on their website (thanks to Mark Maynard for tipping me off to […]

  3. […] Before we get into what it was like to ride from Ypsi to Detroit and back on the train, though, I think it would probably be good for me to preface this conversation by saying, “Don’t get your hopes up.” As longtime readers of this site know, we’ve been down this road before… Here, to give you some sense of what I’m talking about, is an excerpt from something I posted almost seven years ago, in January of 2010. The post was titled Update on the Ann Arbor – Detroit rail line. […]

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