Michigan asks for $800 million for high-speed rail

SOUTHERN MICHIGAN – Governor Granholm climbed aboard an Amtrak train Monday to call attention to the states's efforts to win $800 million in federal stimulus funds. Michigan is part of an eight-state consortium trying to build a Midwest regional high-speed line with Chicago as its hub.

Michigan would use the money to upgrade tracks and train stations, and to create more bypasses so freight trains don't delay passenger service. The competition for federal stimulus funds will be fierce. But Governor Granholm says Michigan's prospects are good. Work can begin right away on parts of the line running between Pontiac, Detroit and the Indiana border.

Michigan has subsidized Amtrak service for 35 years history. The governor says it's critical for the Legislature to continue that funding without any cuts, despite the budget crisis.

"What the feds have made clear is they want to give these grants to states that have demonstrated a commitment to rail and to public transportation," she said.

The governor also says upgrading to high-speed rail would create 10,000 jobs over two years, and make Michigan a larger player in the Midwest regional economy.