The Obama administration announced several awards for the construction of regional high-speed rail corridors throughout the U.S., and Michigan was among the recipients of such assistance. The state managed to clench $40 million of the $244 million allocated to states served by the Pontiac-Detroit-Chicago rail corridor..
$40 million seems like quite a sum, but it is only a fifth of the $800 million that the Michigan Department of Transportation requested for rail and station improvements. Nonetheless, MDOT plans to put the money to use for improvements at three Amtrak stations across the state. Dearborn will see the construction of a new building and an additional platform, Troy a new platform and passenger service facilities, and Battle Creek will be granted renovations to its current building and passenger service facilities.
The bulk of the Detroit-Chicago corridor funds went to Illinois, which received $133 million for improvements to Amtrak stations, as well as $70 million for rail improvements. A sum of $1.1 billion was also awarded for a rail corridor between Chicago and St. Louis.
Also among the big winners was Florida, which was granted $1.25 billion for a line between Tampa and Orlando. California took the largest prize, however, with $2.34 billion for its own statewide rail projects.
It seems that Michigan really lost out in the battle for $8 billion of stimulus funds. It is estimated that the state would have to spend anywhere from $60 billion to even $100 million in order to construct a true high-speed corridor, and that is even with a compromise on speed, with trains likely reaching a top speed of 110 mph. That is half the speed of typical bullet trains in Asia and Europe.
It is unclear where the state might garner the necessary funds to complete the project, especially when it is expecting its budget shortfall for next year to be larger than that of the current fiscal year.