Rail service upgrades to be discussed at UM-Dearborn Wednesday

Press and Guide (pressandguide.com)

Rail service upgrades to be discussed at UM-Dearborn Wednesday

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

By Sean Delaney, Press & Guide Newspapers

DEARBORN — The future of Michigan’s freights and passenger rail system, which could include stops in Dearborn, will be discussed Wednesday, Sept. 15 during a special forum at the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Fairlane Center South, located at 19000 Hubbard Drive.

Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly is expected to attend the event, which will feature an overview of the existing system; an interactive rail mapping session; discussion of financing issues and a big-picture vision of the future of Michigan’s railroad system.

Officials have said rail transit would help reduce congestion in Southeast Michigan, improve road quality and the daily commute for constituents, and assist communities with economic development, employer recruitment and livability.

But just how Michigan will be able to afford expanded rail service is still a mystery. Paul Tait, executive director of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, said in June the state will likely have to raise taxes.

A modest increase in the gas and vehicle registration tax, SEMCOG argues, could raise more than $1 billion annually for road and transit projects in Michigan, and $100 million of that could go to projects like the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit rail line.

The line includes a stop in Dearborn — where plans to build a new intermodal rail station continue to move forward. The new station will be about 20,000 square feet and located at Michigan Avenue and Elm (east of Brady, west of the Southfield Freeway), placing it within walking distance of Greenfield Village and the University of Michigan-Dearborn campus.

In an earlier interview, O’Reilly said he believes the station could be operational in about two years.

The Ann Arbor-to-Detroit rail line and Dearborn’s intermodal station are among several topics that will likely be discussed during the Sept. 15 event, which is part of a series of 16 public forums taking place throughout the state.

Forums cities include Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Dearborn, Detroit, Traverse City, Flint, Grand Rapids, Holland, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Monroe, Muskegon, Battle Creek, Royal Oak, and St. Joseph/Benton Harbor.

For more information, visit michiganbyrail.org.

Contact Staff Writer Sean Delaney at (734) 246-2702 or sdelaney@heritage.com.

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