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Big Money For High-Speed Rail In Michigan

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - The train trip from Detroit to Chicago will get a lot faster in the coming years, thanks to some federal funding announced Monday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced almost $200 million for high-speed rail in Michigan -- something he and some other elected officials say will create hundreds of jobs in the state.

LaHood stopped at the Amtrak station in Detroit for the announcement. He believe you improving the train service will create a huge economic corridor between Detroit and Chicago.

"What happens on these corridors is you create jobs for the people who will be fixing up the infrastructure... In the announcement that we made today, we're actually going to be buying new cars for the Midwest. And also for tremendous new infrastructure along the northeast corridor," LaHood said.

Michigan Congressman Hansen Clark said he'd like to see even more jobs out of this.

"It's gonna attract other transit money here. I've already put in a request to the Secretary for an additional $1 billion that had been turned down by the governors of Ohio and Wisconsin. And then, secondly, I'm gonna request that the rail cars be manufactured here. So, that's how we can build our longterm manufacturing capacity," Clark said.

Amtrak and rail projects in 15 states, including Michigan, are being awarded the $2 billion that Florida lost after the governor canceled plans for high-speed train service.

Related: Will Michigan Welcome High-Speed Rail?

$404 million will go to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest, including newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago that are expected to save passengers 30 minutes in travel time.

Michigan U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced Monday $199 million will go to the development of a 135-mile high-speed rail corridor between Dearborn and Kalamazoo which is part of the high-speed corridor between the Motor City and Windy City.

The funds will be used to rehabilitate track and signal systems.

"This funding will help move Michigan and the nation forward by making high-speed rail a part of our economic infrastructure," Levin said in a statement.

"Our economic competitors around the world have long enjoyed the benefits of high-speed rail service between their cities. They have demonstrated that high-speed service can create jobs and promote economic growth, and that it can provide a more energy-efficient alternative."

"Construction of new high-speed lines will create jobs and generate more business activity in Michigan," Stabenow said. "This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options. As gas prices rise, it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving."

$2.8 million will go to development of the Ann Arbor station.  That money will be used to complete a preliminary engineering and environmental study for design and construction of a new station that will be able to service more than one train.

A statement says Michigan will also benefit from $268.2 million in funding for the purchase of 48 high-speed passenger rail cars and seven high-speed locomotives for service on eight corridors in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri. Michigan joined the other states in applying for the funds.

The largest share of the money - nearly $800 million - will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor, the department said in a statement.

Nearly $340 million will go toward state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest. California will also get another $300 million toward trains that will travel up to 220 mph between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and rail cars,'' Vice President Joe Biden said.

President Barack Obama has sought to make creation a national network of high-speed trains a signature project of his administration. He has said he wants to make fast trains accessible to 80 percent of Americans within 25 years.

A formal announcement about the Midwest projects is expected at 2:30 p.m. Monday when Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Levin, Stabenow and other dignitaries gather for a news conference.

It was announced last year that Michigan was to receive $150 million in federal funds for infrastructure upgrades-- and another $8 million to connect the Chicago-Detroit High Speed line to Detroit's New Center station.

 The Associated Press contributed to his report.

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