State rail plan is now finalized and available on MDOT Web site

Contact: Janet Foran, MDOT Office of Communications,

Agency: Transportation


- MDOT has finalized a State Rail Plan to guide development over the next 20 years.
- The plan identifies current and future needs and makes recommendations.
- The plan recommends MDOT pursue the "Good" investment package.

January 27, 2012 -- The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has finalized a State Rail Plan to guide the future development of Michigan's rail system for both passenger and freight rail over the next 20 years. The plan identifies current and future needs and makes recommendations to encourage ongoing rail investments. The plan, which was developed with public comments during two rounds of public meetings, is now available on the MDOT Web site at

"There are huge rail needs in the state of Michigan and this is a great start in identifying those needs," said Larry Karnes, MDOT's freight policy expert who headed the team that prepared the plan. "The plan takes a conservative view of future funding, while addressing the importance of freight and passenger rail to our economy and environment."

To properly assess funding requirements for 140 projects, the planning team assigned each project to one of four investment packages representing levels of service and potential investment. The packages consist of Baseline, Good, Better and Best. The Baseline investment package includes projects that can be funded if current levels of funding are maintained over 20 years.

The plan recommends that MDOT pursue the Good investment package. The total cost of these projects is approximately $7.2 billion. (There are $2.6 billion in unmet needs in this investment package.) This package assumes modest increases in funding from all sources, with the largest amounts coming from additional federal grants for accelerated rail and Canadian funding for the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel project.

During the public meetings, most of the public comments received focused on passenger rail topics, with strong interest expressed in developing passenger rail service. Outreach efforts also were focused on meetings with railroads, manufacturers, shippers, passenger rail supporters and agencies involved in rail services.

The Good investment package includes:

- Improvements to segments of the Chicago - Detroit/Pontiac corridor, including: Grand Crossing (Chicago), Battle Creek West Track project (CN-owned segment), Detroit to Pontiac (CN-owned segment).
- Annual operating support for Wolverine service.
- Construction of new intermodal stations in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
- Completion of improvements for Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Rail, along with operating and maintenance costs.
- Completion of improvements for WALLY Regional Rail, along with operating and maintenance costs.
- Installation of Positive Train Control on all passenger lines and hazardous material freight lines, as required by the Federal Rail Administration.
- Tier I Environmental Impact Statement and alternative analysis completed for service to Grand Rapids. This study will include an analysis of expanding the existing Pere Marquette service and proposed new services from Kalamazoo to Grand Rapids and Holland.
- Completion of a feasibility study of service for connecting Traverse City/Petoskey to Chicago (via Grand Rapids) and/or Detroit.
- Completion of a feasibility study of service between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio.
- Completion of a feasibility study for a west Michigan intermodal freight terminal in the Grand Rapids region.
- Completion of a substantial portion of the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal project.
- Construction of new freight rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.
- Additional funding for state-funded freight programs, including grade crossings and state-owned rail line investments.
- Northern Michigan Freight Study.

Karnes says the plan is dynamic, meaning projects could be moved between packages in future years depending on ridership demand, feasibility, cost/benefits, public support and funding availability.

MDOT: Working with our partners at airports, bus systems, marine and rail to find innovative solutions for Michigan's transportation systems.