Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Department of Transportation’

Michigan Gov. Signs Grade Crossing Bill

April 28, 2022

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed a bill that supporters say ensures continued funding of a program to maintain adequate and functional signage and warning devices at railroad-highway grade crossings.

The legislation divides the costs of grade crossing sign upkeep and maintenance between railroad and road authorities, preventing any additional costs from being passed on to motorists, state officials said in a news release.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will conduct a study to determine traffic control device maintenance costs.

The agency also will update the fees road authorities pay railroads annually for the maintenance of active warning devices at crossings.

CP to Allow Amtrak to Use Detroit River Tunnel

February 8, 2022

Canadian Pacific has agreed to allow Amtrak to use its tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, for one roundtrip per day, but it’s unclear if that will actually lead to any new service on the route.

The agreement was revealed in a filing by Amtrak in the case before the U.S. Surface Transportation Board of CP’s efforts to acquire Kansas City Southern.

Amtrak is supporting the merger and its filing cited a number of new service expansions for which CP has pledged to cooperate.

In theory, use of the Detroit River Tunnel might be a step toward reviving Amtrak service between Chicago and Toronto.

In practice, that concept faces many hurdles. Those begin with a lack of commitment by Amtrak or VIA Rail Canada to operate such a train.

The two passenger carriers once operated a Chicago-Toronto train known as the International, but it ran via Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, on Canadian National tracks rather than via Detroit and Windsor.

The International was discontinued in April 2004 and replaced with the existing Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water that is funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

MDOT had not indicated if it would be willing to fund service that extends to Toronto.

Amtrak and/or VIA would need to construct a connecting track between CP track in Windsor and the CN route now used by VIA between Windsor and Toronto.

The existing VIA Toronto-Windsor route ends at a stub-end terminal north of downtown.

In Detroit, Amtrak would need to build a new station in downtown Detroit or else have trains engage in a time-consuming backup move to the existing Detroit station in the New Center neighborhood.

Existing Chicago-Detroit trains terminate and originate in suburban Pontiac and the Detroit Amtrak station is located along that route rather than on the line that leads directly into the CP Detroit River tunnel.

The CP-Amtrak agreement does not require any capital investment from Amtrak for use of the Detroit River tunnel.

Also unclear is where customs inspections for the Chicago-Toronto train would be conducted.

For the International, those inspections were done on each side of the border, which led to longer running times.

Never Used Talgos Headed for Africa

January 19, 2022

Two sets of Talgo trains that never turned a wheel in Amtrak revenue service are headed for Africa, Trains magazine reported on its website.

The Talgo Series 8 equipment was built in anticipation of being used in Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin.

But a change of gubernatorial administrations in Wisconsin resulted in the state declining to accept federal funding that would have been used to establish the Madison service.

Madison remains without intercity rail passenger service with its last trains having operated on April 30, 1971. Amtrak has never served the capital of Wisconsin.

State departments of transportation in Michigan, California and Washington expressed interest in using the idled Talgo equipment but that never came about.

Instead, the Talgos have been stored in recent years at Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops near Indianapolis.

The government of Nigeria plans to buy the Talgos for use on a new 23-mile, 11-station commuter line in Lagos, which has a population of 27 million, that is expected to begin service later this year.

Wisconsin had ordered the Talgos in 2009 and Gov. Scott Walker, who was elected in 2010, attempted to cancel the agreement to buy them. The Talgos had been built in Milwaukee.

Talgo sued the state and reportedly receiving a $50 million settlement and ownership of the unused passenger equipment.

It agreed to pay Wisconsin 30 percent of the net proceeds of any sale of the equipment up to a maximum of $9.7 million.

For more information visit https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews/news-wire/never-used-talgo-trainsets-find-buyer-in-africa/

MDOT Awards Grade Crossing Repair Grants

December 21, 2021

Nearly $3 million in grants are being awarded by the Michigan Department of Transportation for grade crossing improvement projects in 2022.

MDOT said the grants will cover 60 percent of the funding for eligible projects with railroads responsible for the remaining 40 percent.

The funding is being awarded for projects in Allegan, Bay, Genesee, Huron, Ingham, Iosco, Kalamazoo, Kent, Livingston, Macomb, Mason, Muskegon, Newaygo, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Van Buren and Wayne counties.

MDOT said the projects range from minor asphalt repairs to installing new track and surface materials.

In a news release, MDOT said the Local Grade Crossing Surface Program is in its sixth year of operation and railroads and local road agencies will be responsible for scheduling construction.

MDOT Describes Plans to Upgrade Rail Service

November 8, 2021

The Michigan Department of Transportation has released a draft plan that describes road and bridge projects to be undertaken through 2026 as well as information on rail, public transit and aviation programs.

The plan provides an overview of the agency’s efforts to increase speeds on Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit corridor to 110 mph on the state-owned segment between Dearborn and Kalamzaoo.

Wolverine Service trains are already operating at 110 mph on some sections of a segment between Albion and Kalamazoo.

The plan envisions bumping up speeds in fiscal year 2022 between Albion and Jackson, between Dearborn and Ypsilanti in FY2023, and between Ypsilanti and Jackson in FY 2024.

That work will be done in part using a $61.75 million federal grant that MDOT has received. Projects being funded by the grant include bridge replacement in Jackson, track and signal work on a new connection in Battle Creek.

Wolverine Service Frequency to Rise July 19

May 19, 2021

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Amtrak have agreed to add back an additional daily roundtrip to the Chicago-Detroit corridor that was suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Chicago-Pontiac Wolverine Service train will begin operating July 19, going westbound in the morning and eastbound in the evening.

The two parties also said that effective May 25 speed limits on 45 miles of the corridor will ncrease to 110 miles per hour.

The faster speeds were authorized between Kalamazoo and Albion, Michigan, on track owned by MDOT

The higher speeds are being allowed following completion of Federal Railroad Administration certification of the signal system.

Officials said additional track infrastructure work is needed before the top speed can be increased between Albion and Dearborn in the Detroit suburbs.

The faster speeds will not reduce the scheduled travel time in the corridor but MDOT and Amtrak officials contended in a statement that improved on-time performance can be expected because the higher speeds will enable trains to make up time lost elsewhere.

This includes segments shared with freight railroads in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, and in the Detroit region.

Speeds of up to 110 mph have been in place since 2012 in the corridor on the Amtrak-owned segment between Kalamazoo and Porter, Indiana.

That segment uses an Incremental Train Control System signaling system.

That system has since been placed into operation east of Kalamazoo as an overlay to the interoperable I-ETMS positive train control system.

The schedule effective July 19 will have Wolverine Service trains 350 and 354 departing Chicago at 7:20 a.m. and 5:50 p.m., respectively.

Westbound trains 351 and 355 will depart Pontiac at 5:43 a.m. and 5:35 p.m., respectively.

The new schedule will restore connections from western long-distance trains to Michigan points that were lost during the pandemic.

Currently, the lone Wolverine Service on the corridor departs Pontiac at 5:43 a.m. and arrives in Chicago in late morning.

The return trip, though leaves Chicago at 1:25 p.m., which is too late to make connections from inbound Western long distance trains.

An MDOT official said the agency will consider adding back the third roundtrip to the corridor “as travel demands increase and COVID-19 vaccination rates rise in Michigan.”

Before the pandemic, trains departed Pontiac in early morning, mid morning and late afternoon. Trains departed Chicago in early morning, early afternoon and early evening.

MDOT Receives Award for Rail Project

March 4, 2021

The Michigan Department of Transportation and Quandel Consultants have received the Engineering Eminent Conceptor Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies.

The award was given for their work on a rail project involving MDOT-owned track between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, Michigan.

The work included replacing track, modifying curves for higher speeds, improving grade crossings, replacing bridges, implementing a positive train control system and completing other safety improvements.

The ACEC/M recognizes Michigan engineering and surveying projects from the past year, as well as engineering professionals who have significantly contributed to the profession.

FTA Awards Pandemic Relief Grants

January 20, 2021

The Federal Transit Administration has released $15.8 million to 37 transit projects through its new Public Transportation COVID-19 Research Demonstration Grant Program.

The program, which began last October, was created following transit agency requests that FTA support research addressing COVID-19-related operational challenges.

FTA officials said in a news release the 37 project grants will implement new cleaning and disinfecting protocols; contactless payment systems; data collection and reporting on ridership, vehicle capacity and other factors; and other solutions to improve agency decision-making and transparency and to increase rider confidence.

Among the recipients is the Central Ohio Transit Authority of Columbus, which will receive $600,000 to develop a comprehensive data model, including incorporating cell phone data to understand travel patterns, to drive decision-making based on travel changes pre- and post-COVID-19.

The analysis will help improve operational efficiencies and demonstrate how communities with multimodal transit networks can provide more efficient and reliable service with data-driven decision-making, especially during and after emergencies.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority in partnership with Drexel University, will receive $584,618 to evaluate air ventilation and surface cleaning in preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

The project seeks to improve passenger safety and strengthen public confidence to return to mass transit during the pandemic of the Philadelphia-based agency.

South Bend Public Transportation Corporation in Indiana will receive $122,638 to implement a new, contactless payment option for riders, streamlining the boarding process and operational efficiency of each route and reducing contact between operators, riders and fare boxes, improving safety during the pandemic.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $450,000 for automated wheelchair securement systems on buses at five transit agencies in rural and urban service environments throughout the state.

MDOT also will deploy a smart phone app that integrates dispatching, scheduling and fare payment to lessen exposure to the COVID-19 virus and improve efficiency.

MDOT Names New Head of Rail Office

January 12, 2021

Peter Anastor has been named director of the Office of Rail at the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The appointment, which is effective Jan. 25, involves ensuring that the state’s rail system meets the economic needs of the state and is safe for the motoring public, rail passengers and railroad employees, MDOT said in a news release.

Among Anastor’s duties will be oversight of intercity passenger rail operations, grade crossing funding programs, rail grade separations, safety of light-rail systems, state-owned rail line management, rail-related economic development programs and international border crossings.

He is currently with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and began his career in the State Budget Office in 1995.

Anastor later worked in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

MDOT Funding 37 Grade Crossing Projects

December 9, 2020

The Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded $3 million in grant money to be used to rehabilitate 37 grade crossings.

The grants were made from the Local Grade Crossing Surface Program, which provides 60 percent funding of a project’s cost.

Railroads are responsible for covering the remaining 40 percent of the cost.

In a news release, MDOT said the work ranges from minor asphalt repairs to installing new track and surface materials.

The affected railroads or their contractors will perform the work with MDOT and local authorities providing cooperation for detour routes.