Michigan Senate Urged to Support $160 Million in Federal Rail Funding

Would you pay $37 to receive $161? That’s the question facing Michigan, multiplied by a million, with respect to high-speed and commuter rail funding.
 
Michiganders distracted by the holiday hustle-and-bustle are urged to take a moment to call their senator this week about a vote on $37 million in matching funds that would trigger another $161 million for a Detroit-to-Chicago rail project.
 
Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and other state senators need to pass House Bill 6484 before the year, or the opportunity for federal funds, is over.
 
The Michigan LCV and Michigan Environmental Council are calling on residents to take action and make their voices heard.
 
“Michigan is a state built on transportation,” said Lisa Wozniak, Michigan LCV’s executive director.
 
“While automobiles remain important, especially next-generation vehicles like the Chevy Volt, our state also needs to invest in high-speed and commuter rail for the promise it holds. That includes a lower carbon footprint for our state and faster commutes that can spur tourism and job growth across Michigan.”
 
The Senate is due to reconvene today (Tuesday, Nov. 30).
 
Leaders in the region have spent a decade working to improve commuter rail in Michigan, and upgrade high-speed rail service along the Detroit-to-Chicago corridor.
 
House Bill 6484 was passed by representatives on Nov. 10. It authorizes up to $100 million of state construction bonds to cover the $37 million federal match requirement, which would allow Michigan to receive a $161 million federal high-speed rail grant awarded to the Detroit-to-Chicago passenger rail corridor project.
 
The funding would go to acquire and upgrade lines between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. The legislation also would make money available for other state passenger rail infrastructure projects including the establishment of a commuter rail between Detroit, Dearborn, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Southeast Michigan is the only major metropolitan area in the U.S. without light or commuter rail.
 
“This is a clear benefit for Michigan’s cities and towns,” said Tim Fischer, deputy policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council. “It will spur economic activity, improve the environment, establish affordable connections between communities and smooth the commutes between home and work.”
 
Senators whose districts stand to benefit include Valde Garcia of Marion Township, Ron Jelinek of Three Oaks, Tom George of Kalamazoo, Mike Nofs of Battle Creek, Randy Richardville of Monroe and John Pappageorge of Troy.
 
“Michigan is being asked to provide a 20-percent match for this federal grant,” Wozniak added.
 
“Our state senators need to get on board with this plan, which will offer a great payback to the state and region.”
 
To find your senator, see this link: senate.michigan.gov/SenatorInfo/find-your-senator.htm
 
It’s also important to contact Senate Majority Leader Bishop, who is responsible for calling the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
 
For more information, see www.michiganbyrail.org.
 
--- Media contact, Tim Fischer, MEC, cell (734) 255-9206