Meeting Minutes – April 16, 2011 – Lansing

APRIL 16, 2011

Those Signing In: Hugh Gurney, Bob Tischbein, Clark Charnetski, Jim Hinkins, John DeLora, Dick Pekarek, Kay Chase, Steve T. Sobel, J.P. DesCamp, Doug Wilson, Michael Frezell, Larry Krieg, John Langdon, Rich Vavra-Musser, Dave Randall, Jim Wallington

Excused: Kathleen Newell

Presentation: Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m. and turned the floor over to Kay Chase, who made a power point presentation entitled “Trains on Track for Energy Efficiency”.  Among points made in the presentation were that transportation accounts for 30% of energy consumed in the United States, 34% of Co2 use, and 68% of oil use.  Transportation is 95% oil dependent.  Light vehicles use 68% of this energy and rail uses 2%.  Trains are 20% more fuel efficient than planes and use create less Co2 than either planes or automobiles.  Vehicle Miles Traveled continue to rise and are outstripping any gains made in fuel economy. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association sees the Midwest a comparable to Spain, where, with a high speed rail network emanating from Madrid, rail now has half the market on city pairs like Madrid-Barcelona.  Here in the United States, transit growth is outpacing auto use.  Amtrak has seen seventeen months of growth in ridership in the United States and in Michigan.

Chase urged MARP to develop a program like this for outreach – a kit that many could use.  It should also include a list of talking points for those staffing tables at outreach events.  Chanetski noted that people attending green fairs don’t take as much paper as at other outreach events.

Coordinator Reports:
Meetings: Wallington is working with Monteith on an October meeting in the Charlevoix/Petoskey area.  He is also laying plans for the Annual Meeting.  After some discussion, Langdon amended his original motion to state that the Annual Meeting should be held in September at a location that would be convenient for people to attend by train.  The motion was seconded by Randall and approved by the members present.

The next meeting will be on June 11 in South Lyon.  A combined July/August meeting will be held in Dowagiac on July 30 in conjunction with a local festival.  Chase will be setting up a tour of the community.  The schedule will tie in with the train schedule.

The November meeting is still up in the air.  Vavra-Musser suggested St. Joseph, where a remodeled station will include a meeting area.
Regional Chapter Reports:
Metro Detroit: Hinkins reported that the federal government has approved funding for the M-1 project, the light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit.  The EIS has been completed, the money has been obligated, and the Detroit City Council has authorized a $125 million bond to cover a portion of the federal match.  Private investors are also covering part of the match.  While still up in the air, the trains will probable go down the center of Woodward Avenue.  Ground breaking is scheduled for early 2012.

No action has yet been observed on the West Detroit Junction improvements.  Three bridges need to be repaired and a mile of new track layed.  A cell tower will need to be moved.  SEMCOG predicts a construction will start this summer.  DeLora noted that some funding has been obligated but a crossover from one track to another has not.

Four MITRAIN units for either the Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter line or WALLY are now complete and await testing by FRA.

According to DeLora, the new Pontiac transportation center is nearing completion.  Langdon noted that funding for this project and the commuter cars came from MDOT’s transit budget.

Charnetski reported that parking at the present station in Ann Arbor is becoming an issue.  When the Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter line is completed, the present long term lot would be used for additional tracks.  Replacement parking space at the old Michcon facility has not been finalized.  DeLora noted that money for the proposed new station in Ann Arbor is in the MDOT request for funding from the grant that Florida rescinded.

Wilson reported that the Detroit River International Crossing will probably happen.  It will cost $6 billion or more including new approach roadways in Windsor and new toll plazas.  MDOT has said it will not be responsible for bonding, so a new bridge authority will have to be created.

Plans for a new rail tunnel are moving ahead.  Unfortunately, trackage on the U. S. side is in bad shape, limited to 10 mph.  Wilson and Hinkins plan to investigate the area soon and see what is needed to bring this area up to par.

Langdon brought up the possibility of having one of the Wolverines continue to Toronto through the new tunnel.  Wilson fears that this would interfere with VIA’s profitable operation.  VIA owns the tracks between Windsor and Chatham.  Border crossing issues would also need to be resolved.

East/Central: Wallington thanked Michael Frezell for hosting today’s meeting at the Millett depot.  Pekarek noted that the Blue Water is often held just outside of Battle Creek until the Wolverine, running late because of slow orders, passes.  Langdon responded that the spring timetable shows no schedule changes to address this problem.


Western: Langdon reported that parking is getting scarce at the Holland station.  There is a feeling that the Pere Marquette is at a disadvantage because it is not included in many of the fare promotions and fares in general are higher per mile than on other Michigan lines.  Vavra-Musser informed the group that the new waiting room at St. Joseph will be completed within a month, paid for by the restaurant that occupies most of the building.

Millett Station: Langdon moved that MARP make a donation of $100.00 to the Lansing Model Railroad Club for hosting today’s meeting at the Millett Depot.  The motion was seconded by DeLora and approved by the members present.

Frezell thanked the group for the donation on behalf of the Lansing Model Railroad Club.  He then shared what he knows of the club and the Millett Depot.  The depot was built in the 1890’s to serve the small community of Millett which included a grain elevator and a small cluster of homes.  The station was used into the 1950’s, when it was abandoned by Grand Trunk Western.  The last agent died on the job.  The Lansing Model Railroad Club, organized in 1953, then leased the station from the railroad for its model railroad displays.  This arrangement was put in peril in the late 1950’s when the railroad decided to build a spur to the grain elevator.  The station was in the way and was slated for demolition.  Fortunately, Gladys Olds of Lansing came forward and donated land to the township so the depot could be moved.  It was relocated in the early 1960’s to its present location.

The Lansing Model Railroad Club has around 30 active members.  Its fall show has paid for the addition to the building we are meeting in today, completed in 2009 at a cost of $45,000.  A workshop and storage are downstairs.  The club hosts several open houses during the year.  Digital Command Control operates the model trains.

Outreach: Tischbein handed out the latest Outreach Schedule.  For National Train Day on May 7, events are schedule in Detroit, Dearborn, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Flint, Holland, Niles and Dowagiac.  Other upcoming events include:
Rochester Green Living Festival  May 13-15
Durand Railroad Days    May 13-15
Ann Arbor Green Fair    June 10
Jackson Green Fair    June 18
Crossroads Village    August 6-7

New Business:

Randall reported that a request for dues from the Michigan Environmental Council had been paid in December.

DeLora moved that MARP make a grant of $250.00 towards the restoration of the station in Holly.  The group is now halfway to their funding goal.  The motion was seconded by Langdon and approved by the members present.

DeLora then moved that MARP provide $250.00 for planting flowers at the Detroit and Ann Arbor stations.  The flowers at Ann Arbor would be on the south and west sides of the stations.  Kuhn will repair a faucet so they can be watered.  Water is available at Detroit.  Ann Arbor will be given priority.  The motion was seconded by Langdon and approved by the members present.

Langdon moved that a previously suggested $500.00 grant to fund the application for non-profit status for the Friends of the Jackson Michigan Central Depot be redirected.  John Guidinger has asked that the funds be used instead for plantings at the station and murals on boarded up windows.  The motion was seconded by DeLora and approved by the members present.

Chase asked that a proposal to purchase a power point projector be tabled.  The motion was seconded by Sobel and approved by the members present.

Adjournment: The meeting was adjourned at 1:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted: Approved:
Hugh D. Gurney     Robert Tischbein
Secretary      Chair