U.S. OKs $196M for high-speed Chicago-Detroit rail

The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved $196.5 million for part of a high-speed Amtrak passenger rail link between Chicago and Detroit, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan said Wednesday.

The funds now being obligated cover work from Kalamazoo in western Michigan to Dearborn in suburban Detroit, the Democratic lawmakers said.

The grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation will cover track and signal improvements.

"This is an important investment that will reduce travel time, improve reliability and on-time performance, and attract more passengers," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "We are creating jobs in Michigan, building our rails with American-made materials and growing the regional economy."

Officials say the rail line improvements will allow trains to reach110 miles per hour on 135 miles of the route. The Transportation Department says that will shave 30 minutes off travel on Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago. The line runs through Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.

"This effort will not only boost our economy, it will provide residents with more transportation options," said Stabenow. "With gas prices as high as they are it is critically important that travelers have more choices in addition to driving."

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