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Posted on Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Dingell announces $2.8M in federal funds officially secured for Fuller Road Station in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, today commended the Federal Railroad Administration for releasing $2.8 million in funding for a new train station in Ann Arbor.

The previously announced funding will allow Ann Arbor to begin engineering and environmental documentation required to design and construct a new intercity and high-speed rail station, drop-off areas, rail platform and other work, including track, switches and signals.

The city project, officially known as Fuller Road Station, has been in the works for several years and also includes accommodations for pedestrians, bicyclists and bus transit.


John Dingell

In a statement this afternoon, Dingell called the development of high-speed rail a top priority and said he'll continue to work with his colleagues to move rail projects forward.

"The obligation of this funding is of critical importance given that the House fiscal year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Act proposes to rescind all un-obligated high-speed rail funding," he said. "I would remind my colleagues who voted in favor of this rescission that high-speed rail is needed to make the United States more competitive, to attract and retain small business in our community, and to efficiently move people from one place to another."

The $43 million first phase of Fuller Road Station, as approved by the Planning Commission a year ago, includes a five-level parking structure with five built-in bus bays and 103 bicycle parking spaces. City officials say they're tweaking those plans to possibly include commuter rail platforms in the first phase now. However, city officials are considering doing the project in one phase if federal funding is available.

The University of Michigan has committed to paying for 78 percent of the Phase I costs and would have access to 78 percent of the parking spaces in the structure. The long-term vision for Fuller Road is estimated to cost $121 million, inclusive of planning and engineering costs, and city officials hope federal funding will be forthcoming to cover those bills.

In a press release this afternoon, Dingell's office identified the total cost of the actual rail station and platform to be only $25 million.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje and Diane Keller, president and CEO of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce, joined Dingell in issuing statements praising the release of federal funds. Hieftje said Fuller Road Station presents a one-time opportunity for Ann Arbor to advance into the modern age of rail.

“Ann Arbor is already one of the highest-ranked cities in the nation for the number of people who walk, bike or ride the bus on their daily commute," he said. "We need to continue to plan for a fossil fuel constrained future. Gasoline prices are only headed up over the long term."

Keller called it welcome news for Ann Arbor's business community.

“Construction of a new station is critical to Ann Arbor and will be a key tool in recruiting and retaining the vibrant small business community that already resides in Ann Arbor," she said, adding it also will create critical construction jobs.

Dingell said today's award comes at a time when passenger rail ridership is at an all-time high. He said rail transit would help reduce traffic congestion, improve road quality and daily commutes and assist communities with economic development.

He noted the current Amtrak station in Ann Arbor is the busiest in Michigan, but it's on single-track territory without passing sidings, forcing trains to stop and block the mainline while serving the station. Fuller Road Station includes construction of passing track that will allow trains to meet and for more than one train to serve the station at a time.

Fuller Road Station is expected to serve the Chicago-to-Detroit high-speed rail line as well as provide commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit.

Dingell's office said the commuter rail service planned for Fuller Road Station eventually will support four round-trips with station stops in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Ypsilanti, Wayne/Westland (to serve Detroit Metro Airport) and Detroit New Center.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.


James D'Amour

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

@MikeyP: The "parking lot" was meant to be a temporary fix that the city agreed to put in when it acquired land for a Fuller Street right-of-way change in the 1990s (to protect landmark oaks). It was a "gentleman's agreement" between the city and the university that it would retain and (lease) parkland for several years or so before the university made parking arrangements elsewhere. Nearly 20 years has passed and lo and behold, we find ourselves with "mission creep" w/respect to the lot. However, as of the latest Parks and Recreation Open Space Plan (PROS), Fuller Park, including the portion of it south of Fuller Road where the parking structure is to be built is designed as city parkland in the parks inventory. It is indeed parkland, and for whatever reason, the city has chosen to essentially permanently repurpose the land without a public vote. On other thoughts, I am sorry to see the Chamber go along with this at this present time. I am deeply disappointed the Chamber Executive and the Board also saw fit to ignore the ramifications of the city charter here. Just a thought, and a good friend of mine shared this elsewhere. This city has expended an enormous amount of capital both figuratively and literally (political and capital), from enlisting the congressional delegation, and consuming city staff time and resources in laboring to make these rather dubious massive public works (the "Big Dig" downtown, and now Fuller Road station). Yet for the energies they have engaged in making this happen, it would be nice to see this level of energy done for something badly needed, help with our declining public safety agencies (police fire). Sorry to bring it up in this thread, but it is a contrast that bears mentioning here.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

$2.8M...... that would buy a lot of Art! (said with sarcasm)


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Sorry, but a better use for these funds would be to repair/rebuild the Stadium Bridge before someone loses their life because the bridge finally crumbles and falls.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.

That project is funded is pending construction, as noted above.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Dear Mr. Dingell, I would like to ask you to read the federal budget, but since Democrats would not pass a budget since 2009, you have to rely on news paper accounts that the federal government is spending $1.4 trillion dollars more than it takes in. Where are you going to get the money to build a train station? Borrow it from China or some other country, that competes with us in the global market? Since when is it the obligation of the federal government to build a train station? Oh thats right, since the feds nationalized passenger rail service. If passenger rail servcie was economically viable there would be enough money to build a station without federal money. I am quite sure the old Ann Arbor station (now the Gandydancer) was not built with federal funds.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

$2,800,000? Wow. That'll get used up in about a week. Representative Pork Barrel will have to do much better if he wants to buy us off.

The Picker

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Tax and spend, Tax and spend, Tax and spend. Its easy to spend other peoples money when you have the power.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

I'd be surprised if Dingell could point out Ann Arbor on a map. His time has passed long ago.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

This is old news! So they released "previously announced funding" for "engineering and environmental documentation". So how many times can Dingell make this "announcement"?? The train station plan still lacks: 1.) federal and local funds to build it 2.) federal and local funds to start and operate a commuter rail service 3.) formal federal approval to move the Amtrak station


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

THE Golden Spike from Ann Arbor to Brighton has been under constrution for the last 30 years, When will that last fall Rep. J. Dingell iussed a $ 200 million check? ??? When is the last time he came to your city? Or Senior center?


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

Give the money back or put it toward the Stadium bridge. Better yet tear the Stadium bridge down and save $ 10 million.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

That project is funded is pending construction as noted above.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 11:13 a.m.

I also agree with @Stephen Landes that city council needs to put this project to the voters for their approval. Selling park land without approval from the voters is ILLEGAL under the city charter and doing so would be a slap in the face to the voters. The city's leaders should not be advocating an illegal act just because doing the right thing is inconvenient and difficult, or because they don't trust the voters to approve their plan. If the project cannot be sold on it's merits to the voters, so be it.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 11:04 a.m.

Selling the air rights to build a tall building over the parking structure would yield a very large amount of money (think $10 million to $20 million) and create a large ratable asset to enhance city tax base (the ultimate project could easily be $100 million in value). The closest property near a high speed rail train station is by far the most valuable. The current plan contemplates using 100% of that extremely valuable real estate only for - parking cars (ouch)! The $100 million tall building above the high speed rail station could have medical offices and residential condos. You could then add location focused retail on the ground floor (for example, convenience store and coffee shop). With the planned skywalk directly into the hospital from the train station, it would be a quick walk to the main hospital and this would become the premium space for medical office space in the area because of it's convenience for the docs (wasting time commuting between the hospital and their medical office is very expensive to them since they can't bill sitting in a car). That means the building could charge premium rates per ft2 (which increases the value of the tall building). Also, it would drive ridership on the train for the many people who visit their doctor for follow-up visits to the doctor"s office because of its convenience (just park and take an elevator up). To do this, the city must design the project to engineer the foundations now in a way to allow later construction of a tall building above the parking structure. You can't do this after the fact except in a very expensive way.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

The $100 million tall building above the high speed rail station could have medical offices and residential condos... that may well be but sounds like that would make it a prime target for an attack to have a commuter rail station at the bottom. I wouldn't want to live there.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 8:59 a.m.

I'm happy to see that we have a representative who is able to secure some federal funding for his community. Thanks, Mr. Dingell!

Monica R-W

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 4:42 a.m.

Promised and delivered. Thank you Congressional Dingell!


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:41 a.m.

I don't get the constant critique. UM will get 78% of the parking spaces and will pay 78% of the cost of the parking facility. Government funding will contribute to a greatly needed enhancement to mass transit near the largest employer in the city, with space for bus modes, bicycle parking, etc. The space has been used for parking for decades, is right under heliports, near busy roads, is directly in front of a major hospital with significant traffic and speeding emergency vehicles, and is not suitable parkland in my opinion as a result. I guess some will complain about anything, however. Ps. The stadium/state bridge is being replaced for those of you who aren't following current events.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

@deb, The U was very willing to build it's own parking structure(s) on Wall St property they own at any time. The city actually preferred this approach, and the U is paying for the cost of the structure on Fuller at a pro-rated basis based on the percent of spaces allocated to it. Seems very reasonable to me. Complain away.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 9:15 p.m.

The bridge project is funded and is pending construction -- planning is done, a full project schedule has been developed with construction to begin soon according to latest reports. Given railways underneath, its a rather complex rebuild but full funding is appropriated.

James D'Amour

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.



Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

Rob- The U is paying 78% of the construction costs. They are not paying to get the site ready for construction or for the land. Let the U build its own parking structure.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 4:12 a.m.

It is??? When? I'll believe it when it is done.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.

I am fine with a commuter rail. Its building the parking structure for the U that I do not agree with.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:02 a.m.

First, a railroad station is not a parking structure, yet the latter is what is the initial plan. Second, just because you have enough money to do something, doesn't make that thing appropriate to do.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:57 a.m.

The last time this project was in the news, the most abundant comments were from conspiracy theorists who insisted that it was all a plot to build a parking structure and that the railroad station would never be built. Not surprisingly, there is no retraction or apology.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:53 a.m.

OK: I seriously doubt that the railroad station will be built and that even if it is that there will be any kind of "commuter rail" between Ann Arbor and anywhere.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

Gee, thanks Mr. Dingell. Now maybe you can convince City Council to take the steps legally required of them for converting park land to a parking structure use. All the Federal money in the world (40% of which is borrowed under the current budget) won't make the current process morally or legally correct. This project is in a poor location. It should be moved to North Main Street where a) there is ready access to an express way, b) existing rail road stations have been located throughout our history, and c) development is needed. This location would keep a large number of cars out of the very constrained location around Fuller/E. Medical Center/Maiden Lane and permit easy access for AATA connecting buses to downtown, the Medical Campus, Central Campus, and the planned new main transfer station across from the Library.

Kai Petainen

Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

here's an argument in favor of the parking lot. if you don't build it, then doctors might go to another university, as they want good parking. don't believe me? look at what happened at Dalhousie. It made national news in Canada. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;A professor at Dalhousie University says a severe shortage of parking spaces at the Halifax school has forced him to quit. Dan Middlemiss and hundreds of other Dalhousie staff and students lined up Monday to buy the first available parking passes. After waiting for more than an hour, he decided instead to leave his profession of 31 years&quot;

Ron Granger

Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 10:44 p.m.

Any word on how much they're going to pay us for converting our PARK into a parking lot for the University of Michigan?


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

I do agree with your later message, Stephen, that it makes sense to put this project on Main St., especially since it has been billed as the &quot;gateway to the city&quot; and the proposed location makes for a poor gateway (not the least of which for the reasons I stated earlier.) Yet I still contend (as a citizen of Ann Arbor) that the &quot;park&quot; in question has been a parking lot for quite some time (as long as I've been in town in fact) so the argument that this particular park shouldn't be converted into what it is and has been is odd to say the least. It would be like opposing any more renovations to the Stadium because it used to be an orchard and thus we'd be destroying green space.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

MikeyP -- you are entitled to your opinion, but the citizens of Ann Arbor are entitled to a vote to convert park land to other purposes. Anything else violates the letter and spirit of our park ordinances and regulations.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

That &quot;park&quot; has been a &quot;parking lot&quot; for the U for, what, almost 20 years? Besides, it isn't the most idyllic spot (right next to the railroad tracks, a busy road, helicopter pads right there, a bridge that's notorious for being a homeless camp with disturbing crimes committed there, etc.) Not to mention that there's a park right across the street, another one just to the NW, it's right near the Arb and Fuller-Mitchell is right down the street. Really, of the 157 parks in this town I think this is one we can stand to lose for a more useful purpose. Of all the reasons to oppose this project this &quot;it's a park!&quot; one has the least merit IMHO.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 10 p.m.

I've been in Michigan for 3 years now. I don't know exactly what the story is with the State Street bridge. Why has it been under construction since January of 2009, or I would assume earlier? I actually get nervous crossing it or passing underneath it, which I do here and there. It looks like it is ready to fall down if a vibration got it the right way. What's up with this while talk of 2.8 million dollars of a 121 million dollar railway station is being funded ?


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 9:16 p.m.

I wonder who the US Government is borrowing this money from? The last I heard, we were broke.


Fri, Sep 2, 2011 : 5:54 a.m.

well that gives me the idea, we could find a sponser for the bridge, some chinese company to pay for the bridge and rename it the Mao Tse Tung Memorial Bridge and Boulevard or Xao Ting Gai Pan complete with The Peoples public art, it might be the only way to fill a bucket to fund it and get it done.

Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

anything that makes it easier to get to Chicago for the weekend is a good thing........................for Chicago.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

it's like we need money fix the stadium bridge and other stuff falling apart before we build new stuff that will fall apart in forty years and will need to be fixed up.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 9 p.m.

... there must be an election in the near future. Oh, it is a year away, so the check will arrive in September 2012, just in time for maximum impact on the election results.


Thu, Sep 1, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

This money must be coming from the same place that Dingell said the funds were coming from a year ago to fix the bridge over State st on Stadium. I wouldn't count on getting the check anytime soon.

Long Time No See

Mon, Sep 5, 2011 : 1:33 a.m.

Who is 'voting' for this ridiculous non sequitur tripe? In case you weren't aware, the Stadium bridges project is funded and work is starting soon.