Plans for a 300-mile high-speed rail (HSR) corridor connecting Detroit to Chicago and beyond took greater shape this week following discussion of a draft environmental impact statement on the project. Those in charge hope to have a final decision made on the project by next spring.
At present, Amtrak conducts three trips between Detroit and Chicago daily, a 5.5-hour one-way journey on average. Under the HSR proposal, trains traveling 110 mph would shorten the trip by almost 2.5 hours. Travel times would also be shortened by 20 minutes for the trip north from Detroit to Pontiac, Mich.; daily trips on this route would jump from three to seven.
No timetable for construction has been given and a go-ahead is contingent on funding, but project officials hope to have the full system in place by 2035. Several routes are being considered: The most likely would follow Amtrak’s existing Wolverine route, noted as one of the company’s worst in terms of on-time service largely due to lack of funding. If the Wolverine route is chosen, a series of new stations would be built throughout Michigan and northwest Indiana.
Citizens have until December 19 to comment on the environmental impact statement. The entire project budget is expected to be somewhere between $2.37 billion and $2.98 billion.