Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Department of Transportation’

MDOT Seeks Grant to Upgrade Amtrak Route

February 7, 2023

Michigan is seeking a federal grant to upgrade a state-owned route used by Amtrak.

The Michigan Department of Transportation has applied for $20 million to $25 million that will be used to rebuild four bridges between Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.

The track is owned by MDOT and used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains. The Chicago-Port Huron, Michigan, Blue Water uses the line between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek.

The grants, if awarded would come from a $2.3 billion Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant Program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration.

MDOT Award Grade Crossing Project Funds

December 15, 2022

The Michigan Department of Transportation has awarded $3 million to improve the surfaces of 44 highway-railroad grade crossings.

The funding is coming from the Local Grade Crossing Surface program, which helps pay for small and large projects that range from minor asphalt repairs to installing new track and surface materials.

The projects provides funding for 60 percent of a project with the railroad that owns the crossing paying the remaining 40 percent.

MDOT offers lump-sum cash incentives for projects to permanently close public grade crossings and caps funding incentives for track realignment projects to eliminate grade crossings.

Michigan has about 4,800 public grade crossings.

MDOT Seeks Proposals for Detroit Intermodal Facility

August 4, 2022

The Michigan Department of Transportation is seeking proposals for an intermodal facility in Detroit to serve Amtrak and intercity bus routes.

The proposed facility would expand and improve the existing Detroit Amtrak station, which is located in the New Center neighborhood.

MDOT envisions renovating the existing Amtrak station while also upgrading the boarding area. A bus loading area would be located on the north side of the facility.

The bus station itself would be located on the south side of the Canadian National tracks used by Amtrak and be connected to the Amtrak station via a tunnel.

The proposed facility would be named the New Center Intermodal Facility and, officials said, feature improved safety and faster boarding and unloading. It would have a place to buy tickets, handle baggage and wait for trains and buses on the north side of the tracks.

The bus station would have  drop-off and pick-up areas for taxis and ride sharing services as well as connections to the QLine streetcar and other public transit services.

Construction could begin in 2024 and be completed two years later.

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.

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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.