Re-establishing passenger rail service between two of Michigan’s most vibrant cities—Ann Arbor and Traverse City—will link fast-growing destinations in the northwest and the economic and population centers in the southeast. This initiative will solidify Michigan as a leader in a new era of modern train travel while boosting economic development along the corridor. In fact, a 2009 Grand Valley State University study found that Michigan cities with once-a-day train service boosted their downtown economies by up to $45 million each year.
Groundwork believes that bringing passenger rail service back to northern Michigan is possible in less than a decade with a focused campaign of public engagement, technical analysis, and adequate support from a cross section of community, state, and federal agencies.
Groundwork is collaborating with citizens and public officials on a 2016 passenger rail feasibility study to determine what resources are needed to bring back the rail connection between Traverse City and Ann Arbor.
Groundwork is also working closely with the Michigan Department of Transportation to plan demonstration train rides from Ann Arbor to Traverse City beginning in the summer of 2016 to raise awareness about the project, and to better understand track conditions, the safety improvements required, and the interaction between the tracks and the communities along
EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE: The tracks are still in place, they’re still owned by the state, and they’re in good shape. Often the most expensive part of a transportation project is the cost of buying land and laying new tracks.
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT: There’s tremendous public support and enthusiasm for trains to Traverse City. The number one priority that came out of a statewide rail planning process in 2011 was a passenger connection to Traverse City.
STATEWIDE PRIORITY: A passenger rail line to northern Michigan was included as a goal in Michigan’s State Rail Plan.