Travelers between the busy Midwestern hubs of Chicago and Detroit will soon have another option in addition to existing trains, planes and buses, according to mlive.com.
Federal and state officials say a planned high-speed rail line between the two cities will improve passenger service, create jobs and stimulate economic activity along the corridor.
"This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options," Sen. Debbie Stabenow said. "With gas prices as high as they are it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving."
Two weeks ago, the state legislature week approved matching funds required for Michigan to finish unlocking competitive federal grants. Last Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) awarded the state $196 million, and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced a $140 million agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway to purchase a critical 135-mile segment of track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.
MDOT also plans to build a double track for a busy freight section of the line east of Ypsilanti. The end goal is 110-mpg passenger service that will cut the trip from Detroit to Chicago to less than 4.5 hours.
Federal officials say track improvements along the line will include continuously welded rail ties, fiber optic lines and infrastructure to support a positive train control system. They estimate the project will create approximately 800 new jobs during the construction phase, which is expected to begin in late spring of 2012.
"We are creating jobs in Michigan, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the regional economy," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Sen. Carl Levin said the federal funding will help high-speed rail become an important part of Michigan's economic infrastructure while encouraging travelers to consider alternative transportation options.
"Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail service between their cities," he said. "They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth, and that it can provide a more energy-efficient alternative."