Dignitaries celebrate construction of new $28 million train station

From the Dearborn Press and Guide:

Government officials celebrated construction on a new $28 million train station with a commemorative ceremony Tuesday.

Dignitaries from the local, state and federal level rolled into the Greenfield Village’s historic Smith Creek station on an old steam engine train to kick off the event, symbolizing how the project will connect modern rail and with the historical train at the Village. One of the key features of the new station is a pedestrian bridge that will cross over the tracks from the station into Greenfield Village, creating a link to one of Michigan’s biggest tourist attractions and potentially boosting the 1.5 million visitors it sees each year.

The new 16,000 square foot station was touted as a catalyst for economic growth for the densely trafficked area surrounding the build site. With its close proximity to Dearborn’s west downtown business district, the University of Michigan Dearborn, Ford Motor Co. world headquarters and Fairlane Town Center mall, the hope is that it will deliver a whole new group of travelers to the community.

Fully funded by the federal stimulus law of 2009, the facility is geared to getting more people to ride public transportation. It will feature connections to bus lines, taxis and shuttles and is just across Michigan Avenue from the start of the Rouge River Gateway Trail, a scenic greenway running 26 miles through Wayne County.

“We’ve got great plans to expand what we’re doing here now to really generate a whole new opportunity not only to bring people from Michigan back and forth but to draw people from all over the country to come here and be part of what we’re doing,” said Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly.

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Project officials estimate the station will create 280 construction jobs over its 18-month build phase and then another 25 permanent positions when it’s open for business in fall 2013. Already, work crews are busy moving utilities and excavating the site, which is located on Michigan Avenue at Elm Street, just west of the Southfield Freeway.
Among the officials that gave remarks at the event were U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Congressman John Dingell (D-Dearborn), The Henry Ford President Patricia Mooradian, Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudel and Amtrak Chairman Tom Carper.

Other initiatives currently underway to improve service on the rail that runs to and from the station include increasing maximum speeds to 110 mph between Dearborn and Kalamazoo on the way to Chicago and, down the line, extending that to Toronto and St. Louis.

“When we celebrate this, let’s pat ourselves on the back and then let’s look each other in the eye and say, ‘by golly we’ve got a little more to do,’” said Dingell.

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