Ann Arbor New Station Sites Narrowed to 2

Ann Arbor planners are focusing on two sites as possible locations for a new Amtrak station.

The sites include the existing station on Depot Street. The site is on the south side of Fuller Road adjacent to the University of Michigan Hospital.

A third site on North Main Street next to Argo Pond has not yet been ruled out, but the project team studying station sites has agreed not to recommend it.

Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor’s transportation program manager, said the station sites are subject to review by the Federal Railroad Administration.

The project team, which includes city officials and hired consultants from URS Corp., is expected to decide on a site by the end of this year.

It has issued a 22-page report that includes conceptual maps showing how a new 12,600 square foot train station might fit on each site. The station would have more than 2,000 parking spaces, four berths for intercity buses, five berths for local buses, taxi stands, and space for bicycle parking.

Other amenities under consideration include space for private shuttles, motorcycle parking, short-term and driver-attended parking, and “kiss and ride” pickup/dropoff areas. Options for Fuller Road include a 1,500-square-foot bicycle station.

The project team ruled out the North Main site because of lack of space. Another consideration that worked against that site was that it would require purchase of several private properties and relocating some businesses. There also were concerns about roadway conditions creating problems for vehicular and non-motorized access, as well as transit connections.

The Fuller Road site would require use of six acres of the city’s 60-acre Fuller Park. Using the existing station site on Depot Street could require using property owned by DTE Energy on the north side of the tracks.

Amtrak wants the station to be elevated above the tracks to provide one waiting room with convenient access to east and westbound trains.

At the Depot Street site, Cooper said the station would line up with the elevation of the Broadway bridges, enhancing pedestrian connectivity.

Wherever site is chosen, Cooper said it’s not expected that all 2,000-plus parking spaces would be built in the first phase.

Cooper said that at this point there is no conceptual alternative that’s preferred and the project team has been giving equal consideration to all scenarios.

Ann Arbor hired URS for $824,875 to lead the new train station study. The City Council voted unanimously in October 2013 to proceed with the current phase of work. A little less than $165,000 is coming from funds the city previously budgeted, with the rest covered by a federal rail grant the city accepted in 2012.

A $2.8 million federal rail planning grant is expected to cover some additional future expenses if the project moves forward.

Final design of the new Amtrak station is expected to cost $2.6 million and would be taken from the city’s Capital Improvement Plan. Construction of the new station is shown as a separate $44.5 million line item that same year.

Mayor John Hieftje has said he expects 80 percent of the funding to come from the federal government with other local partners potentially contributing funds. Ann Arbor residents would vote on the project before any construction commences.

Ann Arbor is Amtrak’s busiest station in Michigan. Additional traffic is expected as

high-speed rail develops between Detroit and Chicago. Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail service is also being eyed.

Currently, Amtrak serves Ann Arbor with three daily Wolverine Service roundtrips between Chicago and Detroit (Pontiac).

The Ann Arbor station handled 155,000 passengers last year, an increase of 70 percent ofver the 2003 business.

Ridership to and from Ann Arbor could increase to 969,000 by 2035-2040 if the Wolverine Service corridor increases to 10 daily roundtrips.

Projections show that commuter rail patronage could be 516,000, potentially pushing total annual ridership to 1.5 million.

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