DETROIT (AP) - Travel time for rail passengers between Chicago and Detroit will be 30 minutes shorter along the 235-mile route following construction of new high-speed tracks and signal upgrades that will be paid with millions of dollars in federal funding.
New segments of track will be designed to allow trains to reach speeds of up to 110 mph, the Transportation Department announced Monday in a release.
The $196.5 million planned for track rehabilitation and upgrades to signals also is expected to create nearly 1,000 jobs in the project's construction phase. Another $2.8 million will be used for an analysis of a new station in Ann Arbor, about 30 miles southwest of Detroit.
Both amounts are from $404 million destined for high-speed rail service in the Midwest and part of $2 billion in federal funds awarded to 15 states and Amtrak for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects. They will be part of a network expected to connect 80 percent of the country's high-speed rail within 25 years.
Just over $186 million will be spent on upgrades on the Chicago to St. Louis rail corridor. Trains will be able to reach the higher speeds on 220 miles of track between Dwight and Joliet in Illinois.
"The investments we're making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Monday.
An initial $2.4 billion had been awarded to Florida for high-speed trains between Tampa and Orlando, but the state's governor canceled the project due to concerns about long-term operating subsidies.
Other states then entered bids for Florida's money. The Transportation Department received 90 applications.
Michigan already had received more than $161 million for high-speed rail and $40 million for Amtrak stations in Troy, Battle Creek and Dearborn.
"Construction of new high-speed lines will create jobs and generate more business activity in Michigan," Democratic U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow said in a release. "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."
But state Rep. Tom McMillin criticized the federal award to Michigan.
"If President Obama and Congress insist on piling more debt on our kids and grandkids, they should at least let us decide how to spend it," said McMillin, a Republican from Rochester Hills. "We need to fill potholes and improve roads, not shave 50 minutes off a train ride from Detroit to Chicago."
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