Passenger rail future is topic of Muskegon public meeting

From the Muskegon Chronicle

The public is invited to a forum Wednesday evening on the future of Michigan’s passenger rail transportation.

The open meeting is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shoreline Inn and Conference Center, 750 Terrace Point Blvd.

Residents are encouraged to speak out on how best to improve passenger and freight rail service. The forum is sponsored by the Michigan Environmental Council, the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, the Michigan Municipal League and the hotel as well as other economic development and civic groups, governments and unions.

Elected officials expected to participate include state Sen. Gerald VanWoerkom, R-Norton Shores; his elected successor, Rep. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart; Muskegon County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kevin Mahoney, Muskegon City Commissioner Clara Shepard and Montague Mayor Henry Roesler Jr.

The session is part of a series of 16 throughout the state. Citizen ideas will be forwarded to state and federal policymakers.

Passenger rail advocates, including some environmentalists, call it a tool to revitalize cities, reduce freeway and airport congestion, create “green” construction and manufacturing jobs and cut air pollution.

Each forum includes an overview of the existing rail system, an interactive rail mapping session, discussion of financing options, and a vision for a Michigan high-speed rail system.

Previous forums have been in Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo, Jackson, Flint, Detroit and other cities. The final forum is Thursday in Ann Arbor. See for more details.

Partners for the Muskegon forum include the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees & Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, Divisions of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters; United Transportation Union; Get Michigan Moving; Disability Connection – West Michigan; Community Foundation for Muskegon County; West Michigan Veterans Inc.; City of Montague; Muskegon Area Chamber of Commerce; West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission; and West Michigan Lakeshore Association of Realtors.