A final agreement of $15.8 million for the West Detroit Connection Track project has been made. The project will eliminate congestion for Detroit-area Amtrak passengers by addressing a bottleneck that comes from serving both freight and passenger rail on the same tracks.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration is providing a grant for $7.9 million, which is being matched with another $7.9 million from the state of Michigan. The project is set to break ground in West Detroit later this year.
Currently both freight and intercity passenger trains make a connection through Bay City Junction. The West Detroit Connection Track project will provide new track to separate freight and passenger train movements. Amtrak’s “Wolverine” service, which provides three daily round trips between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, will use the new track. West Detroit Junction is a key link between the Dearborn Station and the Detroit New Center Station. In 2009, this track moved 444,127 passengers on the Wolverine service.
West Detroit Junction is a key part of the Chicago to Detroit line, which has seen nearly $400 million in federal investments in the state of Michigan under president Obama’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. The line now reaches speeds of 110 mph between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich., and will reach 110 mph on 80 percent of the track by 2016.
The Chicago to Detroit line is part of the Midwest Regional Rail Network, which is located in one of five densely populated mega-regions, areas already overwhelmed by congestion and in need of better transportation options. Bringing safe, fast, convenient, affordable high-speed rail to these areas will create jobs, increase economic opportunities and relieve congestion.