Could there be a practical rail line linking Michigan's 3 major cities?

Jun 25, 2014

Map of the three potential routes between Holland and Detroit to be considered in the upcoming feasibility study.
Map of the three potential routes between Holland and Detroit to be considered in the upcoming feasibility study.
Credit Michigan Environmental Council

In the never-ending quest to improve transportation in Michigan, how do you get from Detroit to Grand Rapids – the two largest metropolitan areas in the state – with the state Capitol parked right in the middle?

The only answer you get is the highway.

There is no rail line connecting Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit.

That has caught the attention of the Michigan Department of Transportion, which will study the viability of a passenger rail line linking those three major Michigan cities.

Dan Somerville is with the Michigan Environmental Council.

He said the study will look at the market demand, destination patterns, population densities, and current traffic patterns in the highway corridor.

Existing train tracks haven’t had been used for passenger trains since 1971, but are used for freight traffic. They could be upgraded for passenger trains, which would be much easier than buying new land for tracks.

Somerville said train transportation could also be environmentally friendly.

“We do need folks to continue to communicate to their elected officials that investments in transportation infrastructure is important,” Somerville said.

The study will take place over the next nine to twelve months.  

*Listen to full interview above.