February 3, 2015 - One of the last events I attended in 2014 was the grand opening of the John D. Dingell Transit Center in Dearborn, Michigan. I was pleased to be invited to the opening by Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly.
Mayor O’Reilly celebrated a milestone in a larger vision for passenger rail options at the grand opening ceremony December 15 at the City of Dearborn’s intermodal passenger rail station, dedicated in honor of retiring Congressman John Dingell.
The station was funded by $28.2 million from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. It has free parking, free Wi-Fi, bike racks, and an adjacent Tim Hortons restaurant. The station is staffed and operated by Amtrak.
Six daily Wolverine Service trains sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) run daily through Dearborn. Nearly 79,000 Amtrak passengers used the former station in the last year, making it the busiest in Metro Detroit. More intercity passenger traffic is expected as MDOT’s accelerated rail project continues between Pontiac and Chicago, via Dearborn.
The station is also an important component in the proposed commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit. In addition, it is an economic driver for Dearborn as it is anticipated to bring more business to the city and will hopefully inspire additional development in the downtown area.
The station’s proximity to the Henry Ford on the south side of Michigan Avenue and the Rouge River Gateway Trail on the north side should prove popular to pedestrians and bicyclists, and provide easy access to the nearby University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford College.
Through selection and use of environmentally friendly materials and design solutions, the station also achieved a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) silver certification. Sustainable features include a metal roof with solar collectors, energy-efficient lighting, and geothermal heating and cooling.
So, a new station in Troy opened earlier this year and Ann Arbor is exploring the idea of building a new station as well. MDOT is exploring construction of a replacement station for the existing New Center station in Detroit. MDOT is also making track and safety improvements in the corridor. This bodes well for increased train service in the near future and should support both additional service to Chicago as well as the proposed An Arbor-Detroit commuter service.
Congrats to Dearborn for a job well done! The next time you’re in Dearborn, stop in and see it!
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