KALAMAZOO (WWJ) – People who ride the train from Detroit to Chicago will be traveling a little faster.  The U.S. Transportation Department is giving the Michigan Department of Transportation $196.5 million for track and signal improvements between Detroit and Kalamazoo.

The fixes will allow Amtrak trains to go up to 110 miles per hour on 135 miles of the route.

Officials say the higher speeds will trim about a half hour off the trip from the Motor City to the Windy City.  The work is expected to create about 800 new jobs during the construction phase, which is expected to begin late spring 2012.

“This funding will help move Michigan and the nation forward by making high-speed rail a part of our economic infrastructure,” said Michigan U.S Senator Levin in a statement.

“Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail service between their cities. They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth, and that it can provide a more energy-efficient alternative,” he said.

The grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation will support preliminary engineering, final design and construction. The project includes new, continuously welded rail and ties, fiber optic lines and infrastructure to support a positive train control system, rebuilding 180 highway-rail grade crossings, and gates and flashers at 65 private highway-rail grade crossings.

“Construction of new high-speed lines will create jobs and generate more business activity in Michigan,” Senator Debbie Stabenow said. “This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options. With gas prices as high as they are it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving.”

Learn more about the project at this link.


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