It’s no secret that investing in modernized passenger rail is one of the top priorities of the Department of Transportation and of the Obama Administration. We’re committed to building a 21st century rail system that creates jobs now and lays the foundation for economic development tomorrow.
Last week, DOT awarded $196.5 million to the Michigan Department of Transportation for track and signal improvements between Detroit and Kalamazoo. These improvements will allow speeds up to 110 mph on 77 percent of Amtrak’s Wolverine and Blue Water trains between Detroit and Chicago. The result will be a 30 minute reduction in travel time between those destinations.
In addition, these rail upgrades will create 800 new construction jobs in Michigan. And, as we rebuild our rails with American-made materials, we're giving an extra boost to America's newly resurgent rail manufacturing industry.
This important investment will reduce travel time, improve reliability and on-time performance, and attract even more passengers to Amtrak.
As Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said, "A faster, reliable passenger rail system is vital to Michigan's ability to compete globally as businesses look to locate or expand. Rail improvements will also hasten the transport of freight, a priority for Ford Motor Company and other Michigan businesses along the route."
And U.S. Senator Carl Levin agreed: “This funding will help move Michigan and the nation forward by making high-speed rail a part of our economic infrastructure. Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail. They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth."
He is exactly right. This nation cannot afford to move a 21st century economy on a 20th century transportation network. Fast, reliable passenger rail is crucial to boosting manufacturing, spurring growth, and keeping America competitive in a global economy.
Last month, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation received $40 million to eliminate delays in and out of Harrisburg on Amtrak’s Keystone Corridor. North Carolina and Virginia received $48.3 million to advance development of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor that will link Raleigh and Charlotte to Washington, DC, through Richmond. The New York State Department of Transportation recently received nearly $150 million to upgrade service on its Empire Corridor.
And you can add to that list Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Delaware, Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut--all states where DOT is helping build a foundation for improved rail service.
President Obama has established a clear goal: Within 25 years, 80% of all Americans will have the choice of traveling from downtown to downtown by high speed passenger train. And, with these recent awards, we are well on our way.