Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Department of Transportation’

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.

MDOT Gets Federal Grant to Improve Passenger Line

October 28, 2020

The Michigan Department of Transportation has been awarded a federal $15.6 million State of Good Repair grant to upgrade state-owned tracks used by Amtrak between Ypsilanti and Jackson.

The work will replace 80,000 feet of rail,  upgrade 42 horizontal curves, and make safety enhancements at 16 public and eight private grade crossings.

MDOT Director Paul Ajebga in a statement said the work will make the route and enable Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains to operate faster.

A news release issued by MDOT said the grant will assist with completing 136 miles to serve trains operating up to 110 mph.

CRISI Grants to Fund Railroad Safety Projects

September 24, 2020

Federal grants will be used for grade crossing safety projects in Michigan and Indiana.

That includes a $15.6 million grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation to improve pedestrian crossings between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on Amtrak’s Michigan Line.

MDOT officials have noted that eventually passenger trains on that segment will operate at 110 miles per hour and currently Amtrak trains operate at more than 90 mph in some places.

The project will involve installation of fencing and other safety enhancements at select crossings where there is a high level of foot traffic.

Among the sites where safety measures will be implemented are Dearborn, Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Albion College, Augusta, Galesburg, and downtown Kalamazoo.

Matching the federal grant will be $14.6 million in state funds and $1 million from Amtrak for a total project cost of $31.2 million. Approximately 62 percent of the total project budget will fund improvements in rural areas.

The corridor is owned by MDOT and used by Amtrak and Norfolk Southern.

Officials said 12 pedestrians have been struck by trains in the past four years and there have been numerous near-miss incidents.

In Nappanee, Indiana, a $1.4 million grant will be used to improve grade crossings on a CSX mainline.

The work will include installation of warning-time circuitry, roadway improvements, improvements at crossings that currently have low ground clearance, and safety and suicide outreach programs.

These improvements will meet the requirements to establish a Quiet Zone.

Another $7.9 million CRISI grant was announced this week to be used in Pennsylvania to develop an onboard GPS sensor system to provide real-time railcar movement information to shippers, car owners, and railroads.

A $900,000 grant was awarded for improvements to the Delaware-Lackawanna Railroad’s Green Ridge Yard and its junction with Norfolk Southern.

Pere Marquette to Return June 29

June 25, 2020

Amtrak’s Pere Marquette will resume service on June 29 with its departure from Chicago en route to Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The train had been suspended on March 21 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amtrak said Nos. 370 and 371 will both operate starting June 30.

The Pere Marquette is primarily funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

MDOT and Amtrak said anticipated ridership demand led to the Pere Marquette being reinstated.

No. 370 is scheduled to depart Chicago at 6:30 p.m. and arrive in Grand Rapids at 11:34 p.m.

No. 371 is scheduled to depart Grand Rapids at 6 a.m. and arrive in Chicago at 9:08 a.m.

Michigan, Pennsylvania Projects Get DOT Grants

May 28, 2020

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration today announced the recipients of more than $302 million in grant funds under the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program to help repair and rehabilitate railroad infrastructure across the country. The grants will fund 12 projects in nine states.

In a news release DOT said the grants are to be used to repair, replace, or rehabilitate publicly- or Amtrak-owned or -controlled railroad assets, to reduce the state of good repair backlog and improve intercity passenger rail performance.

Year 2019 Partnership Program selections total approximately $302.6 million of the $396 million made available for grants under the 2019 Consolidated Appropriations Act.

The FRA will make the remaining $93.4 million available with a Notice of Funding Opportunity for Fiscal Year 2020 Partnership Program funds.

Although no Ohio projects were selected, DOT did choose one project in Michigan and one in Pennsylvania.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive up to $6,521,957 to rebuild signal and rack infrastructure on the state-owned Kalamazoo-Dearborn corridor that is used by Amtrak’s Wolverine Service and Blue Water trains as well as multiple freight operators.

The work includes signal and grade crossing component rehabilitation, including replacing switch machines, switch heaters, backup power generators, and 26 gate crossing mechanisms at 18 crossings along the line.

Additional work includes replacing 10 switches on mainline tracks.

The work is designed to reduce passenger train delays and contribute to enabling 110-mph service in the corridor.

In Pennsylvania, a grant of up to $8,337,500 was awarded to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority and Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to rebuild Track 2 from Glen to Thorn Interlocking in Chester County on the Amtrak-owned Harrisburg Line between Philadelphia and Harrisburg.

The project will upgrade 10 miles of track to FRA Class 3 standards (60 mph) and upgrade the signal system with in-cab bidirectional signals.

The corridor hosts Amtrak’s Keystone Service and Pennsylvanian, SEPTA’s Paoli-Thorndale service, and freight operations.

The work will eliminate a choke point, thus enhancing rail capacity.

Bike Racks Added to Michigan Amtrak Trains

March 18, 2020

Amtrak is providing limited onboard bicycle storage on three routes linking Chicago and cities in Michigan.

The passenger carrier is allowing passengers to store bikes in an open area at end of a coach. No reservation is needed.

The cars have been assigned to the Chicago-Grand Rapids Pere Marquette, the Chicago-Port Huron Blue Water, and the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.

“We are receiving lots of requests from the cycling community, both the consumers and the advocacy community, and we’ve been wanting to be able to accommodate that,” said Derrick James, Amtrak’s senior manager of state government affairs.

Jeff Martin of the Michigan Department of Transportation said new cars on order for Midwest corridor services will come with bike racks that will increase the number of bikes that can be carried per train.