Biden administration announces $30 million to improve Michigan railways

Improvements of rail infrastructure will enhance safety and strengthen supply chain

(AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File) (Matt Brown, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced $30 million in rail infrastructure funding for Michigan. The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program awarded $368 million to 46 projects across 32 states and Michigan’s projects were selected.

The projects selected will improve and expand passenger rail and fund conventional and high-speed rail. Not only that, but they will also increase supply chain resilience and fluidity, support short line railroads, invest in new technology and safety advancements, and benefit rail industry workforce development and training activities which will help to create jobs and increase economic growth.

The Department of Transportation reports that the $30 million that Michigan was awarded is for these two projects:

  • The Michigan Department of Transportation (DOT) received up to $21.3 million for the Great Lakes Corridor Improvement Project, which will rehabilitate track and rail assets operated by the Great Lakes Central Railroad (GLC) just north of Ann Arbor. Specifically, the project includes installing 4.25 miles of new rail, eliminating joints on an additional 41.25 mainline track miles, replacing or rehabilitating 11 bridges and culverts, and installing approximately 30,000 ties on mainline and siding track. In total, it will eliminate 16 slow orders covering a critical 45-mile section of the 260-mile mainline corridor and will result in fewer track defects, derailments, and other maintenance problems associated with rail joints. Michigan DOT and the Class II GLC will provide a 50 percent match.
  • The West Michigan Railroad Co. will receive up to $8.7 million to fund infrastructure improvements on approximately 10 miles of West Michigan Railroad (WMR) in Southwest Michigan. The project elements include rail and crosstie replacements, reconstructed roadbeds, bridge and turnout repairs, upgrade and replacement of two at-grade crossings, and rebuilding approximately 5.6 miles of track. The improvements to existing track will upgrade portions of the line from 5 mph excepted track to at least FRA Class 2 speeds up to 25 mph and ensure the line can continue to operate 286,000-pound railcars. The Class III WMR and Michigan DOT will provide a 35 percent match.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said, “Americans deserve a world-class rail system that allows people and goods to get where they need to go more quickly and affordably, while reducing traffic and pollution on our roads, we’re proud to award these grants to improve passenger rail for riders and strengthen the freight rail that underpins our supply chains and makes our economy work.”

As the supply chain crisis has emerged since the COVID-19 pandemic and our nation continues to recover, these upgrades and expansions are hoped to help state and local governments and rail carriers meet renewed travel demand and strengthen the supply chains.


About the Author:

Morgan is a senior at Wayne State University studying political science and communications.