At least one train stopped in Ypsi this year

A week or so ago, the President of Amtrak disembarked from a train in Depot Town and met with elected officials on the future of regional rail. I, sadly, wasn’t invited to participate, but Ypsi City Council member Pete Murdock just passed along the following letter, about the meeting, from Carmine Palombo, Director of Transportation Programs at SEMCOG.

Last week, I participated in a meeting with members of our federal elected leadership, representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation and some of our local elected and appointed officials. The purpose of the meeting was to educate and seek guidance from the federal transportation officials on how we can better prepare our applications for new federal discretionary transportation funding in the form of TIGER and High-Speed Rail (HSR) funds.

Discretionary funding is being discussed as a major component in federal reauthorization. As a result, the level of future transportation funding for us in Southeast Michigan may depend on how well our projects address national priorities. The leadership of our delegation, led by Congressmen John Dingell and Senators Levin and Stabenow, will be key if Michigan is to have an opportunity to receive an appropriate share of the funds we already send to Washington. It will also be important for communities and agencies in Southeast Michigan to invest in projects across the entire spectrum of transportation infrastructure – highway, transit, HSR, biking and walking, etc., if we are to be successful, both today and in the future.

Events like this go a long way in educating us on how to respond to new federal funding opportunities and to show the feds that we are serious about competing and educating them about our challenges here in Michigan. Hopefully, we all got something out of the event – the proof will be in a few months when we see how successful we were in receiving some of this discretionary funding.

So, I expect we should hear something about funding by the end of the summer. For the time being, however, it looks as though even the scaled-back Ann Arbor-Detroit line isn’t likely to start rolling until 2012, at the earliest. Or, at least that’s Councilman Murdock’s assessment.

And I know that I’ve said it before, but we really need to establish a grass roots lobbying effort to keep the pressure on our elected officials. There are tens of thousands of people that would benefit from a rail line connecting Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Dearborn, and Detroit, and we should start organizing. This is too good of an idea to let die.

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  1. Kim
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    We need a citizens group if for no other reason than to give Carmine the political support he needs to propose a gas tax that would go toward funding our rail build-out.

  2. Edward
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    Our local politicians, in all their wisdom, would rather invest their political capital in a ridiculous pipe dream called the Airtropolis.

  3. Posted May 24, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    One big piece in this puzzle will be to elect a State Representative who will work for this project, among many others that our community needs, wants, and is indeed demanding. I am such a candidate and encourage you to get involved in my campaign. I’m having a brief meeting at noon on May 29, at the Tap Room, in downtown Ypsilanti. For more information, link up via facebook, or visit

    Jeff Irwin is another such candidate in the area who will work for progress as relates to high-speed rail:

    I’m running as an Independent, and encourage more independent-minded individuals who have the knowledge, skills and abilities to lead to step forward and run for office. There is still time to get on the ballot. If you need help, or a framework for how to qualify, please feel free to contact me I’ll be happy to get you moving in the direction towards ballot access. If we give into political inertia, and keep electing Democrats and Republicans to “represent” our views, well, I fear we will continue to get what we’ve always received, which is not much.

    Jeff is running as a Democrat, and has an August primary. I would consider Jeff to be among the few Democrats who will actually work to get stuff done that many readers of this site trend towards. If you don’t know who your local candidates are, I encourage you to visit ArborWiki. Of the local sites covering the 2010 election, they have a comprehensive list of candidates with links to their websites, when available. You can also find such a list on here:

    If you don’t know who your legislator is, or what district you are in, you can visit to find your current Representative, and to find your Senator.

    In our fair city, Ypsilanti, Alma Wheeler-Smith is term limited, and I am seeking to win the seat in November. Liz Brater our Senator, and she is also term-limited.

  4. Posted May 24, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Thanks David! I appreciate the plug – especially on an esteemed forum that covers everything from puppets to puppeteers.

    For folks who’d like to get involved in supporting public transit investments throughout Washtenaw County please check out: Sign up for the newsletter and get involved.

    If enough of use who care about better bus service and regional rail links get politically organized, then we’ll be the one’s pulling the strings.

  5. Mrs. C
    Posted May 24, 2010 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I like the fact that there’s already a pro-transit group, but I agree with Mark that the east-west rail line needs its own army.

  6. Meta
    Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    From today’s Ann Arbor dotcom:

    The Ann Arbor City Council went on record Monday night to unanimously support the state of Michigan’s efforts to develop and fund a comprehensive system of high-speed rail and intercity passenger rail services.

    Mayor John Hieftje, who sponsored the resolution, said the Michigan Municipal League is asking Ann Arbor and other communities to demonstrate support for the Michigan Department of Transportation’s new application for funding from a $2.5 billion second round of federal high-speed rail grants.

    “A tremendous amount of money has been put into high-speed rail,” Hieftje said. “I think up to $4 billion has already been handed out. This next round is $2.5 billion. And as we’ve said before, the improvements that would take place for the high-speed corridor are exactly the same improvements that we need for commuter rail to work.”


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  1. […] tenure as governor. Efforts, however, continued. And, in May of 2010, I posted here that we might see our first stop by 2012, which also didn’t happen. Here’s a […]

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