Michigan high speed rail: Robust public session set for Holland Thursday evening

Sen. Kuipers and Birkholz, Rep. Genetski to join citizen dialogue

September 21, 2010 

Contact: John Langdon: 616-218-9009, Tim Fischer: 734-255-9206

A public forum on Michigan’s passenger rail transportation future will take place Thursday, September 23 in Holland from 6 to 8 p.m. at Holland East Public School.

Michigan State Sens. Wayne Kuipers and Patricia Birkholz along with State Rep. Bob Genetski and other officials will participate in a robust discussion of passenger rail’s future in Michigan.

The session is part of a series of 16 taking place throughout the state to engage citizens on a vision for the future. Citizen ideas will be forwarded to state and federal policymakers. The Holland event will be at the Holland East Public School, 323 E. 24th Street.

Residents are encouraged to voice their opinions on how to best upgrade passenger and freight rail service in Michigan to create a more convenient, efficient system. The forums are sponsored by the Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, and the Michigan Municipal League as well as economic development and civic groups, governments and unions in the area.

“Recent federal support has put Michigan in a great position to build a modern rail transit system that is clean, fast and convenient,” said John Langdon of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers. “We want residents to shape that vision and discuss how best to meet big challenges like funding for such a rail network.”

Investments in state-of-the-art passenger rail can help speed the way toward a new, robust economic model for the state that will also soften our environmental footprint.

“High speed rail is about much more than just tracks, trains, and trip times,” said Tim Fischer of the Michigan Environmental Council. “It’s also about creating thousands of green construction and manufacturing jobs that can help drive a new, clean-energy economy.”

Fischer said a modern rail system can revitalize urban centers, reduce freeway and airport congestion, and boost the use of urban public transit while reducing air pollution and carbon emissions in the process. [Soft Break][Soft Break]Each forum includes an overview of the existing rail system, an interactive rail mapping session, discussion of financing options and a big picture vision for a modern Michigan high speed rail system.

Forums have drawn hundreds of citizens and civic leaders in venues including Royal Oak, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Traverse City, New Buffalo, St. Joseph, Dearborn and Jackson. Others are planned for cities including Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Kalamazoo, Flint, Monroe, and Ann Arbor. See www.michiganbyrail.org for more details.