Michigan Land Use Institute

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MLUI report examines potential for rail in Traverse City

Seasonal shuttle could be a low-cost, first step

Rail | July 17, 2014 | By James Bruckbauer

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‘Getting Back on Track’ describes how trains could expand transportation network, boost tourism and development.

TRAVERSE CITY— A new report by the Michigan Land Use Institute describes the potential for running a train on an 11-mile stretch of railroad tracks between Traverse City and Williamsburg, Michigan.

Getting Back on Track: Uncovering the Potential for Trains in Traverse City describes how rail travel could boost tourism and development in the area; the upgrades needed to run passenger trains along the tracks; and how comparable towns around the country restored old train lines.

“It’s a low-cost way to add capacity to our existing transportation network while supporting development along the track at the same time,” said James Bruckbauer, MLUI transportation policy specialist and author of the report.

Some key findings from the report:

·      The estimated cost to improve the tracks—less than $2 million—is modest when compared to the $9 million cost to reconstruct just 1.5 miles of U.S.-31.

·      While year-round daily commuter trains might be too expensive for now, a seasonal tourist-shuttle could be a low-cost, achievable first step.

·      A Traverse City train could spur interest in reviving the rest of the line, which connects Traverse City to the southern part of state.

The National Association of REALTORS® and the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® provided funding for the report.

"We've got plenty of evidence that rail projects can have a very positive impact on neighborhood development,” said Kim Pontius, Executive Director of the Traverse Area Association of REALTORS® “In our region the Grand Vision identified that we need to think of transportation solutions other than the automobile. This project, if realized, may prove to be a great way to test the thesis."

MLUI will present the report at the Traverse Area District Library on Saturday, July 19, at 11 a.m. during a monthly meeting of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers. MLUI will also present the findings at community events in the coming months.

To read the full report, check out www.mlui.org/backontrack

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