Federal grant boosts Ann Arbor/Livingston County commuter rail project

Aug 17, 2012

Commuters who make the trek on southbound U-S. 23 to Ann Arbor know a thing or two about traffic congestion.

Now a federal grant is breathing new life into a proposed commuter rail system that would connect Ann Arbor with Livingston County.

For the past six years, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has been looking for ways to use existing freight track for passenger service.

Michael Benham is a strategic planner with the AATA. He says the $640,000 federal grant was a happy surprise.

"The grant is to support siting of stations, as well as station design and environmental impact work," Benham says.

The commuter rail system -- nicknamed WALLY -- would have stations in Howell, Genoa Township, Hamburg Township, Whitmore Lake and on Ann Arbor's North side. Eventually there could be stations in downtown Ann Arbor and near Michigan Stadium.

Benham says the AATA needs to get Livingston County officials and residents on board, as well as the owner of a stretch of private freight track in Ann Arbor. The project could take about a dozen years to complete.