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Experts, Gov. Snyder convene to help make connected, convenient rail system a cornerstone of Michigan’s prosperity

Michigan Rail Summit 2011
Oct 31, 2011
Lansing, MI – Experts from across the nation will speak to the vital role that railroad transportation will play in Michigan’s 21st century economy today during Michigan Rail Summit 2011 in Lansing from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Lansing Center.

“Passenger and freight rail service plays a vital role in Michigan’s future, and will be increasingly important in an era of higher fuel prices, a changing economy and shifting demographics,” said Chris Kolb, president of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The policy expertise we’ve assembled here will help our state plan a future that better connects people and goods with the places they need to go – markets, neighborhoods, jobs, cultural amenities, downtowns, parks and homes.”

Gov. Rick Snyder will deliver the keynote address at 12:30 followed by John Porcari, deputy secretary of the United States Department of Transportation and Joseph Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.

Under Gov. Snyder, Michigan has made passenger rail and other public transportation options a cornerstone of efforts to improve the state’s economy, attract business, and provide residents with affordable, convenient ways to reach destinations.

“Improved freight and passenger rail service is vital to Michigan’s future,” Snyder said. “It paves the way for growth in our agriculture and manufacturing sectors, enhances property values and stimulates local economies. Michigan is well positioned to become a major transportation hub. Modern rail service will play a key role in making that happen. It also can better link the economies of Canada, Michigan and other Midwestern states so that the entire region benefits. With the continued support of our federal partners, we’ll build on our recent accomplishments so that Michigan families and job providers enjoy fast, efficient and environmentally friendly rail service.”

Federal and state commitment to rail transportation is helping provide jobs and more flexible transportation options in Michigan – where roughly $500 million in federal and state funds have been secured over the past two years to improve speeds, rebuild train stations and make critical track improvements on Amtrak’s Detroit-to-Chicago line.

“By investing in our national transportation system, the American Jobs Act will put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, rails, and runways right here in Michigan and around the country,” said U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari. “Already, work is underway across the region and country to develop a rail network that will transform how we move people and goods, all while creating good-paying jobs with American-made materials.”

Rich Studley, chief executive officer of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, said rail transportation is an integral part of Michigan’s future: “Moving goods quickly and efficiently, and providing more options for people to get where they’re going are key transportation goals for our state,” said Studley. “We’re pleased to be part of this forward-looking effort to help make Michigan more competitive with a modern, convenient rail system.”

The summit comes as passenger rail ridership is peaking in Michigan. Nearly 800,000 passengers rode Amtrak routes in Michigan during the fiscal year 2011 – an all-time high.

Michigan Rail Summit 2011 partners include: Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Railroads Association, and The Right Place, Inc.
Hugh McDiarmid Jr., 248-660-4300
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy
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