The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has raised concerns about the possible cost of a new Amtrak station that would be located in Ann Arbor, Mich., according to local news reports.
The initial cost estimate is “an order of magnitude higher than other new intercity passenger rail and multimodal stations for which [the Michigan Department of Transportation] (MDOT) was awarded funding to construct by FRA,” the FRA’s Melissa Hatcher wrote in a Nov. 19 email to city and state officials.
Ann Arbor’s new capital plan includes $14.7 million for final design of a new train station and parking deck throughout a three-year period, in addition to $86 million which is intended for the first phase of construction several years in the future.
The city has announced Fuller Park, which spans 60 acres, as its preferred site for the station, but the FRA has not signed off on such plans at this time.
“The total cost is high because the city’s preferred location for the station is constrained and the city is proposing a substantial amount of parking, requiring a retaining wall to construct … the platform adjacent to a slope and the station to be located over-the-tracks,” Hatcher reportedly stated in the email.
The city should consider “value engineering” in the proposed design to minimize the project scale and cut costs, Hatcher also said.
According to local news reports, the emails corresponding with Hatcher were obtained by Ann Arbor resident Rita Mitchell, a member of Protect A2 Parks, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Protect A2 Parks is a group that also recently made the emails public and has reportedly expressed concerns about the push to build a new Amtrak station and parking deck in part of Fuller Park for several years.