Grant Expected For Chicago-Detroit High-Speed Rail

UPDATED 05/09/11 7:50 a.m.

CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – After focusing on building a high-speed rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis, the federal government is about to award money for a high-speed corridor to the east.

This time, the focus is a route from Chicago to Detroit.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has scheduled a news conference for Monday afternoon at the Amtrak terminal at 11 W. Baltimore St. in Detroit, with a conference call on the latest high-speed grants just before that.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts reports

Although neither Federal Railroad Administration Joe Szabo nor Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper would give details Saturday, in advance of LaHood’s announcement, they said that the announcement will come as no surprise to backers of passenger rail.

“It’s a decade and a half of planning leading up to this,” Carper said. “It wasn’t hatched recently. This came because of good planning and good forethought by a lot of people.”

He said Amtrak ridership has risen steadily for 17 months, although he said the increase has been more pronounced in recent weeks as gasoline prices have spiked.

“We have to provide our citizens choice,” Szabo said. “Population growth is just going to put the current transportation network into somewhat of an untenable situation.”

A Chicago-Detroit high-speed line is a logical next step for the Obama administration because Amtrak already owns the 97-mile stretch between Porter, Ind., and Kalamazoo, Mich.

The state of Michigan seeks a grant to buy an existing 135-mile rail line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, so that it can be upgraded for higher-speed service.

Currently, Amtrak operates three round trips on the Wolverine train daily between Chicago and Detroit, with a scheduled time of roughly 5-1/2 hours. Upgrading the line for 110-mile-an-hour operation could cut that to under four hours.

The State of Michigan is also seeking federal funds for several other transportation upgrades, including maintenance on the Wolverine route, a crossover rail bridge to make turns easier for Amtrak trains, and a new bus and Amtrak train station in Ann Arbor, the Detroit News reported.

More from Bob Roberts
  • James West

    Does anyone really want to go to Detroit? I don’t think people in Detroit even wanna go to Detroit but soon you’ll be able to get there faster – WOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!

    • Scott Knitter

      Some of us have family in the Detroit area and will use this faster service gladly. Wish it could be available soon, like this month!

  • James West

    “Population growth is just going to put the current transportation network into somewhat of an untenable situation.”

    Population growth is the major cause of higher taxes, pollution, inflation, and a host of other social problems. We need to get our overpopulation problem under control.


    Really,”three round trips daily between Chicago and Detroit” ? Are any one of the three fully loaded? I have a hard time believing any of the three would be,as Amtrak has never made a profit and loses money every day. I’m sure with a “high speed rail” that will make the trip to Detroit or Chicago an hour quicker is going to really make Amtrak some money. Team those profits with the “high speed rail” they have started between Chicago and St Louis and I’m sure Amtrak will be rolling in the black. “Population growth”? Seeing as how the latest census shows both Chicago and Detroit have lost and are losing more population, the Amtrak people are really looking to the future. What politicians have the contractors and unions that will be working on this Amtrak boondoggle in their fat wallets? Does any one pay attention as to why the states that have already turned down all the Federal taxpayers money for “high speed rail”,turned it down? They can’t afford the matching funds or the cost of upkeep after it’s built. No need to wonder why the USA is going bankrupt ,this is just another daily announced reason why. Illinois land of Ill-Repute and many ,many,unpaid bills and unfunded pensions. Just keep adding to the waste as you the politicians fatten your wallets. This is some real $ change $ you can believe in.

  • Jim

    Why do we insist on throwing more money on a backward looking technology to a place where NOBODY wants to go? This is another Roosevelt era big government project to keep people on the government payroll while filtering the money through major contributors to the major political parties, primarily the Democrats. These jobs produce nothing and eat up tax dollars from people who DO produce something. Unfortunately, the people doing these jobs don’t understand that they are little more than welfare recipients because their labors do not produce wealth, they only eat it.

    • Ortho Stice

      Yeah, that FDR was a putz. That’s why he was elected four times.

  • Costella

    Greyhound bus is charging so much this days… people will want for sure go to Detroit to do shopping and to look for a job. But this town is broke. Everyone is coming from there saying Mo Town is broke. No jobs, no housing no nothing. If they open up a Walmart or any factory that make cars that run on water or solar paneled busses.. may be millions will flock to Detroit. Please tell the bosses in Detroit to start making electric cars and trucks so people will have jobs and we all will not pay the high prices Greyhound charges.
    Are these trains safe enouhg to jump in and not end up in a lake or river?

    • PR

      People who can’t spell or form a coherent thought really shouldn’t submit comments. Seriously… What makes you think that anyone wants to know what flimsy thoughts are leaking from your mind?

  • SmarterThanYou

    1. Yes – the Wolverine is frequently a full train with more than one car filled with passengers to/from Ann Arbor and another filled with passengers to/from Dearborn. Just because this is described as “Chicago-Detroit Service” doesn’t mean that the majority of passengers travel between those two terminals.
    2. None of this will matter until a DIFFERENT route is established through Indiana. This is the most congested rail corridor in the nation and the Norfolk Southern makes no pretense about giving their freight traffic priority

  • Nohorns

    The vast majority of Amtrak trains go from places like Stumblebum Pennsylvania to HogWallow Arkansas. This is because political hacks bribed their senators back in the 1800’s to steer the railroad to THEIR county for the benefit of their farmers or ranchers. Thus, the idiotic and useless Amtrak today has always and WILL always lose money and have to be subsidized to keep the welfare recipients called employees employed in their unneeded jobs. Stop subsidizing Amtrak, let it fail and use the wasted money on newer technology that makes sense.


      I’m amazed we had crooked,bribing ,politicians in the 1800’s ! I thought the crooked politicians were just a new thing since the 90″s ! And the wheel goes round and round,when it’s going to stop,nobody knows.

  • Zaanga

    Wisconsin said NO to this because it would each rider over $60 to go to Milwaukee from madison. A family of 4 would have to pay $240 for the 1hour drive to milwaukee. This cost is also taxpayer subsidized or else it would cost even more. Further more they expect that this would cost the state millions more to run each year, which would cost a state tax increase before the project even got started. Thank god we got a Governor with his head OUT of his butt for a change.


      You lucky cheese heads ! Your Governor not only has his head out of his butt,he’s using his head to try and balance your state budget.Can you say corrupt union taxpayer $ being funded to the few on the backs of the many? Florida said the same thing in refusing the $ the Feds want to waste on “high speed rail”. Our Illinois Official Clowns are way too ignorant and greedy to say no. They also know if they don’t deliver the jobs at the wasteful, inept, union wages,the unions wont deliver the vote in their next election.


        The truth Mrs, O’dreary is the ignorant and corrupt politicians in Illinois can’t see this high speed rail fleece for what it is. They waste the taxpayers money on losing projects like this because it’s not their money they are wasting,it’s the money of the citizens of this sorry state. Illinois can’t pay the bills they have now,let’s add a few more $ billions to the tab and the IOU list.You’re so bright you should be able to read and under stand what you’re reading. I never said I wanted to move to the land of the cheese heads,just that I wish our corrupt and ignorant politicians were as honest and educated as theirs. Speaking of losers,did you lose your cow again?

      • Mrs. O'leary

        Cry-baby loser. Move to Wisconsin since they have it so great, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass.


        Gee Mrs. O’leary, Are you upset about maybe losing your cow? Speaking of ass,pull your head out of yours and maybe you’ll see the truth. Truth hurts doesn’t it?

      • Mrs. O'leary

        Truth about what? You being a loser who would rather live in the land of cheeseheads?

  • Pothead

    It would probably be cheaper to build a bridge across the lake.


      Pothead you know that will be next. They will build the bridge after the money from this railroad project gets in their wallets. I will no longer be around to ride over the bridge because the train project will take the usual 20 to 40 years to complete,and I will be long gone and in the ground by then. The politicians will defend the need and the $billions in funding for the bridge as really being needed. And it wont be a “bridge to nowhere” like so many other pork projects,it will be a fine and much needed “bridge to Michigan” and that Grand city of Detroit,even if no one is left there.

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  • Detroit-Ann Arbor-Chicago High Speed Rail Line News and Developments - Michigan (MI) - Page 2 - City-Data Forum

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