CHICAGO (STMW) – Michigan’s two U.S. Senators announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Transportation has released $196.5 million to begin work on a high-speed rail project that ultimately will help bring 110mph trains to 235 miles of the route between Detroit and Chicago.

The project that funding was released to Wednesday concentrates on the rail corridor between Dearborn and Kalamazoo, Michigan, a release from U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin said.

“Construction of new high-speed lines will create jobs and generate more business activity in Michigan,” Stabenow said. “This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options. With gas prices as high as they are it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving.”

“Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail service between their cities,” Levin said. “They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth, and that it can provide a more energy-efficient alternative.”

Stabenow and Levin joined U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other elected officials at an event announcing the selection of this project in May. Today’s announcement that funds are being obligated keeps the project moving forward.

The $196.5 million for the Kalamazoo-Dearborn rail project will rehabilitate track and signal systems to allow trains to travel at 110 mph for the 235-mile stretch, the release said. The current obsolete signal system will be replaced with a positive train control system, improving safety. The Federal Railroad Administration is obligating the funds to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

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