No Public Word Yet on City’s Recommendation for New Ann Arbor Amtrak Station Location

Wolverine Service No. 352 calls at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

Wolverine Service No. 352 calls at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

A recommendation on a site for a new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has been made, but not yet made public.

Ann Arbor transportation program manager Eli Cooper said a final draft analysis of alternative locations for the station has been sent to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

However, he declined to disclose the preferred location, saying only that the draft report includes a comprehensive review of options for a new train station on Fuller Road or Depot Street. Another option is to not build a new station.

“The report also discusses a recommendation to preferred location,” Cooper said. “Recognizing this is a draft document and subject to agency review, comments and amendments, it is best to wait until the final version is available.”

The Ann Arbor News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the draft report and is awaiting a response from the city.

Although city officials have discussed a new Amtrak station for years, a formal study wasn’t begun until 2014.

City officials say the current station on Depot Street, which was built by Amtrak in 1983, is inadequate.

Cooper said the station site report must be reviewed by MDOT and then sent to the Federal Railroad Administration for final review

“I’m thinking we’re into early- to mid-September [for public release of the report] if all goes well,” he said.

Public hearings to discuss the recommendations will be scheduled after that.

Ann Arbor planners have considered demolishing the existing Amtrak station and building a new station at that location.

Other options include a new station at a city-owned parking lot along Fuller Road in Fuller Park in front of the University of Michigan Hospital.

There has also been a proposal to return to the former Michigan Central Railroad depot, which was converted into a restaurant in 1970.

If the city stays with the existing Amtrak location on Depot Street, it would need to acquire a portion of the DTE-owned MichCon site north of the station to build a new station and parking lot.

DTE has agreed to collaborate with the city to make that work if that option is chosen.

A new station could either be at ground level or elevated.

Ann Arbor officials expect ridership on the Chicago-Detroit corridor to increase significantly in the coming decades.

Amtrak’s current Wolverine Service is projected to expand from the current three roundtrips a day to 10. Also ahead is a proposed Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter service.

City voters will have the final say before a new station can be built.

Ann Arbor is paying URS Corporation $824,875 to lead the train station study, much of which is being funded by a $2.8 million federal rail planning rant.

Final design of a new Amtrak station is identified as a $2.6 million expense in 2016-17 in the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.

The station itself is expected to cost $44.5 million and be built in 2017-18 with 80 percent of that funded by the federal government and possible local partners.

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