Posts Tagged ‘Ypsilanti Michigan’

Creating Ypsilanti Amtrak Station Now in Doubt

November 11, 2016

The future of a proposed Amtrak stop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, is in doubt after a ballot measure to fund a Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter train went down to defeat on Nov. 8.

michiganThe city council had about a month earlier halted planning work to establish a station to serve Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains and now some city officials are questioning the benefit of proceeding with the idea.

The city had agreed to commit up to $2.5 million from the city’s general fund and savings to pay for establishing the Amtrak stop.

Plans had called for construction of a 500-foot concrete platform just north of the Cross Street crossing near a former Michigan Central freight house.

At the time that the station planning began, city officials expected the station to serve Amtrak and the commuter trains. Some of the funding was expected to come from grants.

Council Member Brian Robb said he doubted that a station serving 9,000 annual Amtrak riders is worth the cost.

“Now we have to re-evaluate the timeline,” Robb said. “Commuter rail is the holy grail of public transportation for us and we have to see where a platform fits in with that.”

Council Member Pete Murdock agreed, noting that the soonest that the commuter rail proposal could be put before voters again was in 2018.

However, Mayor Amanda Edmonds said the commuter rail tax was never a determining factor in whether the stop would be built.

“It was an extra bonus,” she said. “We’re going to keep working as we were doing to leverage funds from partners, federal agencies, and keep pushing forward on gathering the money, and our timeline will follow from there.”

Although Beth Ernat, Ypsilanti’s economic development director, said commuter service would provide a much larger economic impact than just Amtrak, the decision on whether to continue working to develop the station belongs with the council.

“It’s council’s decision, and we will evaluate all of our options in the coming weeks,” she said.

Council Member Dan Vogt said he is concerned that there is no evidence that investing in an Amtrak stop would be worth the money, noting that the city has “been acting on faith.”

Initial Designs Completed for Ypsilanti Station

September 12, 2016

Initial designs have been submitted to the Ypsilanti, Michigan, city council as part of the city’s efforts to land Amtrak service.

michiganThe council has yet to take action on the designs, which would renovate the Depot Town complex for service by Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service.

“Given our financial situation itself, we’re looking at doing something for the Wolverine stop,” said council member Pete Murdock. “It is sort of a minimalist plan–enough to get the train to stop.”

The depot renovation project is projected to cost $2 million and the city is hoping to obtain grant money to fund it.

The renovations could be finished by late 2017.

MDOT Changes Mind, Will Consider Creating Stop in Ypsilanti for Amtrak’s Wolverine Service Trains

March 11, 2016

The Michigan Department of Transportation has changed its mind and will consider supporting efforts to make Ypsilanti a stop of Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

MDOT and Amtrak had earlier said they would not consider the idea, but state transportation officials now say that a recent study supported establishing an Amtrak stop in Ypsilanti.

Amtrak trains would stop at or near the former Michigan Central depot.

Amtrak 4Local officials said there is still much design work to do and additional approvals that must be obtained.

Mayor Amanda Edmonds said it still might be a while before any of the six Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) trains begin stopping in Ypsilanti.

“It’s taken years, with many allies along the way, to get us to the point we are now,” she said. “But, the journey is far from complete and our end goal is not guaranteed.”

The design work includes planning an ADA-compliant platform that meets specifications provided by MDOT, the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and Norfolk Southern. The city also must close several railroad crossings.

The platform is likely to be built near a former railroad freight house. City officials also must address issues regarding parking, traffic, site plans and other infrastructure issues that need to be addressed.

Amtrak served Ypsilanti between Jan. 20, 1975, and April 28, 1985.

Some Ask Where Ypsi Amtrak Riders Will Park

November 24, 2015

A proposed Amtrak stop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, has some Depot Town business owners asking where Amtrak patrons would park.

The business owners said they are not opposed to Amtrak serving their community, but just want to know how the city is going to handle parking and planning for a station platform.

“My concerns are if we have this process that [has] already moved so far along that we have an announcement in a couple weeks . . . then some site planning could be done, and there are some long-term parking issues that have to be worked through,” said business owner Andy French said. “To be honest with you, maybe there already have been some conversations and it hasn’t been communicated. There are a lot of unanswered questions and a lack of information for a process that seems to be moving along.”

The issue arose last week after city officials learned that the Michigan Department of Transportation and Amtrak are working on establishing a Ypsilanti stop for the Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.

Although Ypsilanti City Manager Ralph Lange said no announcement about Amtrak serving the city is imminent, he can be heard on a recording of a city council meeting saying there would be some discussion about it in two weeks.

“I’m not at liberty to talk about rail now, but I will be in two weeks,” Lange said.

Council Member Pete Murdock said parking is an obvious problem that the city would address.

“Clearly there are issues related to parking and the train,” he said. “Parking needs to be regulated and dealt with, but I don’t think it’s an insurmountable problem. It’s not like anyone is ignoring it.”

Murdock suggested the Maple Street lot at Maple and River as one possibility for long-term parking, saying that rail commuters would mostly use parking during weekdays.

Depot Town’s parking lots are most crowded on weekends and in the evening.

Murdock said he hasn’t heard which side of the tracks the city is considering to establish the station platform.

Rex Richie owns the building at 42 E. Cross St. in Depot Town and R2 Construction. He also is concerned about the parking and planning issues.

“I’m just concerned about the way it’s going down and want to make sure that we have proper stuff in place as far as parking. I just don’t want to jump into it too quickly. There are a lot of details that haven’t been spelled out,” he said.

Ypsilanti Eyes Becoming Amtrak Stop

November 23, 2015

Officials in Ypsilanti, Michigan, are pursuing becoming a stop for Amtrak’s Wolverine Service trains.

The city council was recently informed that Amtrak is interested in using the Depot Town facility.

Although adding Ypsilanti, which is located between Ann Arbor and Dearborn, to the Amtrak map has been discussed before, a contract between the city and the Downtown Development Authority could help secure a portion of funding for the train stop.

“If and when a train stop comes we would put  . . . that as our No. 1 priority,” said DDA Executive Director Tim Colbeck.

“There’s a high level of commitment on a lot of parties to make this happen and there’s a high level of optimism,” he said. “We would absolutely want to support a train stop and when it does happen we would want to be able to put our full capacity behind it through our ability to bond revenue.”