MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS
April 25, 2015
Members Present: Larry Krieg, Jim Wallington, John Langdon, Robert and Diane Patterson, Jeanie Merckel, Chuck Merckel, Don Monteith, Dan Platz, Charley Bonnell, Clark Charnetski, Barb Spaulding-Westcott, Don W. Westcott, Steve T. Sobel, Dennis & Pat Schumaker, Warren Williams, Julien Wolfe, Jim Hinkins, Dan Sommerville, Jim Roach, Ren Farley, Rosemary Horvath, Mark Campbell, Richard L. King Jr.
Guests: Art Cole, Liz Treutel, Pete Murdock,
Call to Order: Chairman Krieg called the meeting to order at 10 a.m.
Freighthouse host Pete Murdock welcomed MARP and gave a brief history of the building the city purchased in 1979 for an indoor farmers’ market. Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse formed to restore the building and bring it up to code. The Ann Arbor-Detroit Commuter Rail will stop at the site but the building cannot be used as a station as supporters once hoped for. A farmers’ market is located outside the building rather than inside. One day it will be used as a community building.
March Minutes: John Langdon moved for approval with the correction of 23 commuter cars. Motion passed.
Langdon clarified 59 presentations to lawmakers were part of the Meet & Greet program paid from a Michigan Environmental Council grant awarded to MARP to promote Michigan By Rail, composed of several organizations advocating for passenger rail.
- Merckel noted a $40 transaction fee is paid to PayPal for memberships to be paid online.
Checking Opening balance: $16,310.58
Closing balance: $18,013.30
Langdon moved for approval of the treasurer’s report. Motion passed.
MEETING SCHEDULE – Don Westcott
May 16: Durand Union Station during Railroad Days. Retired history teacher Joe Mishler will talk about the Holly-Flint Railroad, which is one of the state’s earliest railroads. Mishler will give the talk at the Michigan Historical Conference in October.
June 20: Crossroads Village in Flint. We will meet there but the final agenda has not been settled. One idea is to meet in the Warehouse with a box lunch served to those that reserve or to meet on the paddle wheeler on Mott Lake if maintenance on the boat is completed in time. The boat would cruise along Mott Lake while we have our meeting and eat our box lunches. Crossroads Village will be open. There is a operating steam powered saw mill and cider mill, an operating water powered grist mill, turn of the 20th century amusement rides and historic buildings with interpreters. There is the historic 3 ft gauge steam powered railroad (the engine and many of the cars came from Colorado and were built in the late 19th century and the early 20th century) that gives a little over 8 mile round trip thru the 4500-acre Genesee Recreation Area. As an added attraction for MARP, the railroad restoration and maintenance facilities will be open for a guided tour. The shops are not usually open for public tours. I will be getting more details out as the plans come together.
July 25: Grand Rapids. The Amtrak Exhibit Train is expected.
August is open Sept. 5 is the annual MARP meeting in Durand.
October meeting is in Charlevoix
OUTREACH – Chuck Merckel
Langdon has plans for Amtrak Train Day. Chuck has other events on his schedule and asked for volunteers.
RAIL CONSTRUCTION UPDATES – Steve Sobel, MARP Michigan Passenger Photographer & Reporter
Steve presented a 15-minute “Newsreel” or summary of the progress along the Amtrak Wolverine route since late 2013. He included the two new intermodal stations: The Troy Transit Center which opened on October 14th, 2014, and Dearborn’s John D. Dingell Transit Center which opened on Dec.13th, 2014.
This was followed by photos of the M-1 rail construction along Woodward Avenue, concentrating from Grand Circus Park to Campus Martius.
He also showed a few pictures of the ongoing construction of the soon to be completed Junction Ave viaduct which will permit Amtrak trains to move much more smoothly and quickly between the West Grand Blvd (Detroit) and Dearborn stations. According to Amtrak, MDOT, this will save 5-10 minutes of travel time.
Steve briefly took us back to the Fall of 2013 where two track gangs provided by Norfolk Southern Railroad and supervised by Amtrak personnel was doing rail and tie replacement in the vicinity of the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.
He concluded by showing photos along the Michigan Avenue corridor where a 2nd track is being installed from the old Dearborn station to a point just East of downtown Ypsilanti. When completed in the Fall of 2015, it will act both as a long passing track for trains, both passenger and freight and will save a lot of lost time for Amtrak waiting for trains to pass each other.
The current Amtrak schedule has been changed to allow a 6 hour track work “window” so work can be performed without interruption. A supplement has been issued to the current Amtrak schedule. This covers a period from the present to October, 2015.
NARP “Day on the Hill” Report – Larry Krieg
Larry Krieg, John DeLora, Rich Vavra-Musser and Dwight Phillips, all on NARP Council of Delegates, visited offices of Michigan’s U.S. Senators and Representatives to convey support for passenger rail.
Special Report – Liz Treutel, policy associated, Michigan Environmental Council, outlined Proposal 1 on the May 5 ballot targeting roads and transportation. Treutel sought MARP support which generated discussion. Langdon noted MARP had indicated on its nonprofit certificate it would not take political stands. Treutel clarified 501 © (3) federal status allows for supporting issues but not monetary contributions. Langdon disagreed and moved for MARP not to take a stand on Prop 1. Voice vote. Majority supported. Discussion ensued. Langdon moved to extend meeting. Motion passed.
Historian Ren Farley circulated packets on Depot Town and Ypsilanti history. Don Monteith announced the Michigan Land Use Institute would announce a name change at the May 16 meeting. R. Patterson attended the MEC meeting.
Meeting adjourned 12:07 P.M.