June 3, 2013 — The City of New Buffalo, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Amtrak, has reapplying for a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant for the Western Michigan Intercity Passenger Rail Connectivity and Expansion Initiative.
This $72.9 million project requests $58.3 million in grant funds to supplement $14.6 million in matching funds to be identified by MDOT for two purposes:
1. Design of a connection track between the Amtrak-owned corridor and CSX at New Buffalo, Michigan.
2. Extension of the Dowagiac, Michigan siding to the Niles, Michigan siding, a distance of approximately ten miles.
New Buffalo Mayor Migs Murray stated: "This grant application, if approved, will provide jobs, improve intercity passenger rail service, and contribute to the economic development and tourism of not just New Buffalo, but the whole state by integrating Michigan's passenger rail services."
Michigan's passenger rail service includes three lines: 1) Pere Marquette (Chicago-Grand Rapids,) 2) Wolverine (Chicago-Detroit,) and 3) Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron.)
New Buffalo's old Amtrak Station (prior to October 2009) was serviced by the Pere Marquette. It was located on South Whittaker Street at Washington Street, on the south-side tracks owned by CSX.
In October 2009, through funding and construction via a private-public partnership, the City of New Buffalo opened our new platform on North Whittaker Street at Oselka Drive on the north-side tracks owned by Amtrak. This new platform is served by the Wolverine and Blue Water. If the proposed connection track gets built, Pere Marquette service will be restored.
In 2009, the New Buffalo Amtrak Station had a ridership of 4,237. In 2012, ridership increased 370% to 15,714. Restoration of Pere Marquette service will likely increase ridership even more.
The proposed New Buffalo rail connection represents more than just adding New Buffalo as a Pere Marquette stop. Pere Marquette trains between Porter, Indiana and New Buffalo would be able to take advantage of new 110 mph train speeds, providing better service. In the future, Chicago to Porter, Indiana tracks will also receive upgrades to allow for 110 mph speeds.
The grant application's narrative explains the project in greater detail. The City is thankful for new letters of support from Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Carl Levin, State Senator John Proos, MDOT, and Amtrak, as well as for last year's letters and resolutions of support from Amtrak, MDOT, Michigan State Senate, Michigan State House of Representatives, New Buffalo Township, City of Niles, City of Dowagiac, Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, Grand Valley Metropolitan Council, and Macatawa Coordinating Council.
Please contact your U.S. Senators' and Representative's offices to show your support.
This page last updated on 12/19/2013.