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MDOT officials not sweating matching funds for rail, yet

High speed rail
Creative Commons
Picture of an AVE Spain High Speed Rail Train at Cordoba Railway Station, Spain.

Efforts to raise enough money to bring a high speed rail project to Michigan aren’t over just because this legislative session is. Bills were introduced last month to sell bonds in order to raise $45 million in support of the project. The matching money is needed to secure a little more than $161 million in federal grants. But state senate did not take action on the bills before ending the lame duck session last week.

Tim Hoeffner heads the Office of High-Speed Rail at Michigan’s Department of Transportation. He says the federal government is not threatening to take the money away.

“They haven’t given us a real definite time frame that we have 30 days, 60, 90, however long to solve this. I think that as long as we’re moving forward and being able to show some progress, they’ll be able to work with us on this,” Hoeffner said, “The sooner that we have the issue solved the better off that we are. Because that means the sooner we can get the contracts in place and start to build things or start studies which will not only progress high-speed rail forward but it will also help Michigan’s economy by putting folks back to work.”

The projects are supposed to create at least 1,200 jobs. Incoming republican state leaders have not taken a position on high-speed rail funding.

Incoming republican state leaders have not taken a position on high-speed rail funding.

The grants would fund high speed rail from Dearborn to Kalamazoo, along with other improvement projects.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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