By Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm
There’s an old saying that “Getting there is half the fun.” Well, if you could get from Detroit to Chicago in a couple of hours on a new, clean, high-tech passenger train traveling at a top speed of 110 miles per hour, well, that would be fun, wouldn’t it?
That’s our vision here in Michigan, and on Monday, we’ll take another step to turn our vision for high-speed rail in Michigan into a reality.
Back in July, I signed a memorandum of understanding that established a partnership among eight states – including Illinois, Indiana and Ohio – to work cooperatively to fund the Midwest Corridor. The Midwest Corridor is a high-speed rail plan that’s regional and will connect cities throughout the Midwest with frequent, reliable high-speed and conventional intercity rail service.
Michigan’s portion of high-speed rail would stretch from Pontiac to Detroit and then west to Chicago. From Chicago, you could then travel to other Midwestern cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis.
Michigan has been planning its high-speed rail corridors for several years, but federal funding now available under the Recovery Act will help accelerate the process.
High-speed rail will give Michigan citizens another transportation option for business and recreational trips. It’ll help our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It’ll lessen our dependence on foreign oil. And it’ll create jobs for Michigan workers.
The economic impact would be substantial. According to the American Association of Railroads, every dollar invested in our railroads yields $3 in economic output. And each $1 billion of investment creates 20,000 jobs.
There’s also a special opportunity for Michigan. The Obama administration has designated 10 high-speed rail corridors, including the Midwest Corridor, across the country. If this nation is going to make a commitment to high-speed rail, then someone is needed to manufacture the trains and the equipment.
Michigan can certainly do that. We have the manufacturing capacity, we have the workforce, and we have the infrastructure to produce the new trains and equipment needed for a fully-developed, national high-speed rail network. Just like we have an expertise in building automobiles, we can develop one in building rail cars. We’ve already started exploring options for transferring automotive manufacturing skill and talent toward this endeavor.
So, high-speed rail is a win-win-win for Michigan. It provides another mode of transportation, it’ll reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and it can provide thousands of jobs for Michigan workers. All great things to contemplate while you enjoy your first ride on a new high-speed train to Chicago.
The above content reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily the policies of the National Governors Association.