Chesterton Tribune



High speed Amtrak would hit 110 mph here

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Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) provided a mass of material on Thursday related to the proposed upgrade of the passenger rail line between Chicago Union Station and Detroit/Pontiac, Mich.

But Dunelanders really only need to know three things.

* All of the six alternative routes currently being discussed will traverse Duneland, either on Amtrak’s line, the CSX line, or the Norfolk Southern line.

* Those passenger trains--whenever a final Service Development Plan is implemented--will be traveling at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour.

* And the ultimate goal is to create a capacity along the passenger line of 56 trains per day.

As Mohammed Alghurabi explained, the project mission is to develop a dedicated double-track passenger line, between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, capable of a maximum speed of 110 mph, with as little conflict as possible with other passenger and freight lines.

Currently, Alghurabi said, Amtrak operates the Wolverine service in the development area, providing three daily round trips with an average duration of 6.5 hours. That service, however, tends to be unreliable, partly because of track conflicts, and at nearly seven hours the trip is not competitive with other modes of transportation: auto, bus, and plane. A reliable high-speed service would not only increase the mobility of resident populations, he added, but promote the economic development of the communities along the line.

The problem is to find the optimum route--cobbled together from the spaghetti of passenger and freight lines which run, as Alghurabi noted, “south of the lake”--and able, with as little infrastructure improvement as possible, to support 14 round trips per day between Chicago and Kalamazoo, eight round trips between Chicago and Fort Wayne, and 12 between Chicago and Indianapolis, for a total capacity of 28 rounds trips or 56 trains per day.

MDOT began with 85 possible alternative routes and gradually whittled those down to the six best, of which no preferred alternative has yet been chosen.

But Jennifer Kluge went to the heart of the matter, as she usually does, by asking whether all or any of them would be using the existing Amtrak line which cuts through the Porter Downtown. The answer: all six of the alternatives would pass through Duneland, either on that line or the two others.

Folks have until Oct. 28 to submit their comments to MDOT:

* Email through

* Call toll-free at (877) 351-0853.

* Or write to Bob Parsons, MDOT, Van Wagoner Building, P.O. Box 30050, Lansing, MI 48909



Posted 9/20/2013





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