Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) provided a mass of material on
Thursday related to the proposed upgrade of the passenger rail line between
Chicago Union Station and Detroit/Pontiac, Mich.
But Dunelanders really only need to know three things.
* All of the six alternative routes currently being discussed will
traverse Duneland, either on Amtrak’s line, the CSX line, or the Norfolk
* Those passenger trains--whenever a final Service Development Plan is
implemented--will be traveling at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.
* And the ultimate goal is to create a capacity along the passenger line of
56 trains per day.
As Mohammed Alghurabi explained, the project mission is to develop a
dedicated double-track passenger line, between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac,
capable of a maximum speed of 110 mph, with as little conflict as possible
with other passenger and freight lines.
Currently, Alghurabi said, Amtrak operates the Wolverine service in the
development area, providing three daily round trips with an average duration
of 6.5 hours. That service, however, tends to be unreliable, partly because
of track conflicts, and at nearly seven hours the trip is not competitive
with other modes of transportation: auto, bus, and plane. A reliable
high-speed service would not only increase the mobility of resident
populations, he added, but promote the economic development of the
communities along the line.
The problem is to find the optimum route--cobbled together from the
spaghetti of passenger and freight lines which run, as Alghurabi noted,
“south of the lake”--and able, with as little infrastructure improvement as
possible, to support 14 round trips per day between Chicago and Kalamazoo,
eight round trips between Chicago and Fort Wayne, and 12 between Chicago and
Indianapolis, for a total capacity of 28 rounds trips or 56 trains per day.
MDOT began with 85 possible alternative routes and gradually whittled those
down to the six best, of which no preferred alternative has yet been chosen.
But Jennifer Kluge went to the heart of the matter, as she usually does, by
asking whether all or any of them would be using the existing Amtrak line
which cuts through the Porter Downtown. The answer: all six of the
alternatives would pass through Duneland, either on that line or the two
Folks have until Oct. 28 to submit their comments to MDOT:
* Email through