From the Detroit Free Press:
Federal authorities awarded a $196.5-million grant to Michigan transportation officials today for track and signal improvements on the Amtrak line between Detroit and Kalamazoo that will allow for train speeds of up to 110 miles per hour on most of the line.
As a result, the trip from Detroit to Chicago on Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water services will be cut by half an hour.
“This is an important investment that will reduce travel time, improve reliability and on-time performance, and attract more passengers,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We are creating jobs in Michigan, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the regional economy.”
The grant will go to preliminary engineering, final design and construction of improvements along the 135-mile segment of track between Detroit and Kalamazoo and will include new rail and ties, fiber optic lines for train control systems, and the reconstruction of 180 highway-grade crossings.
The Transportation Department said the project will create approximately 800 new jobs during the construction phase, which is expected to begin late spring 2012.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is also designated to receive a $150-million federal grant later this year to purchase the Detroit-to-Kalamazoo segment of track, allowing for implementation of 110-m.p.h. service along the line.