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Posted on Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Q&A with Ann Arbor's Eli Cooper: The push continues for a new train station

By Ryan J. Stanton

Editor's note: Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor's transportation manager, sat down with recently to talk about transportation initiatives under way in Ann Arbor, including what's happening this year with the city's push for a new train station.

Asked what inspired his chosen career path, Eli Cooper, the city of Ann Arbor's transportation manager, quickly recalls a memory from his childhood: His father stuck in traffic.

"My dad worked in New York, we lived in the suburbs, and as I was engaging in various activities, there were times when dad couldn't make it because he was stuck in traffic," Cooper said, recalling his response to the situation: "I said, 'Someone's gotta do something about that!' "

Cooper, who has degrees in both environmental science and urban planning, grew interested in transportation from an environmental perspective as well.


Eli Cooper, the city of Ann Arbor's transportation program manager, stands outside his office on a recent morning.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I remember as a youngster, looking out the window in the morning, and the sky was blue, and by 11 o'clock it was just smog," he said. "And come to realize that transportation is a major contributor to the smog that formed in those days, so it's part of wanting to help society, help the planet."

Cooper came to Ann Arbor in 2005 after spending two decades honing his skills as a transportation planner in New Jersey, Delaware, Minnesota and Washington. He's worked on initiatives ranging from light rail to statewide transportation planning, and just about everything in between.

Cooper said he welcomes the recent news that the Michigan Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration and Norfolk Southern Railway Co. have signed an agreement to transfer ownership of 135 miles of Norfolk Southern's tracks to MDOT for $140 million.

The line is part of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water passenger rail services between Kalamazoo and Dearborn, and its biggest stop is in Ann Arbor.

Transferring the line's ownership to the state paves the way for track improvements to accommodate passenger train speeds up to 110 mph — knocking about 30 minutes off the travel time between Detroit and Chicago, and reducing the overall trip time to about five hours.

"So at this point, as we sit here, the first major change has just occurred, and that's the ownership," Cooper said.

Once the ownership transition is final, which is expected this spring, Amtrak will handle upcoming track and crossing upgrades to make higher-speed rail possible.

The $140 million used to purchase the line included federal High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program grant funds, plus a state match of $37.5 million. The FRA also awarded $196.5 million to MDOT for the major track and signal improvements on the corridor.

"And it's my understanding that MDOT has been working on both planning and engineering design of the actual railroad system itself," Cooper said, "so what types of track improvements are necessary to both maintain the current service and increase the speed to something in the order of 110 mph from east of Ypsilanti all the way out to south of the lake in Indiana."

The promise of those upgrades is partly what has Ann Arbor officials moving full steam ahead on plans for a potentially $44.5 million train station to replace the Amtrak station on Depot Street.


MDOT What are we going to see happen this year with the push for a new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor? What are the city's next steps?

Cooper: At this time, we continue to work with MDOT and FRA — FRA obviously the funding authority and MDOT our contract partner on the project. We're looking at satisfying the planning requirements that FRA has in order to be eligible for the eventual construction of a train station.

We will have to outline the purpose and need, as well as address the environmental review requirements for whatever location is selected, so there's a planning process that has been funded by the FRA. They also are the administrative agency that has to review and approve all of the documents that we will produce. And so during the course of the first half of this year, we will be going through a process of developing the documents and engaging in a public process with those. And depending on what the technical data reveal and the citizen input we receive, we would like to be in a position by the end of this year to have completed the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requirements.

If the Fuller Road site once again comes up as a preferred alternative, there is a section of NEPA called Section 4(f), which addresses additional requirements needed if a transportation project is going to be built either in a historic area or on recreational lands. Fuller Park, as a park, would require Section 4(f) analysis as well. And it's our expectation we should be able to complete both the environmental assessment and the Section 4(f) requirements during this year.

That will give all of us the clarity that we need — the basis, justification, purpose and need, and the ability of either the existing train station site (on Depot Street) or some alternative location to meet the federal agency approval for us to enter into preliminary engineering, which would be the immediate next phase of work once we have a concept plan and the environmental clearance. Will that cost more money?

Cooper: The grant that we have has sufficient funding in it to both complete the environmental process and the preliminary engineering. So we would anticipate once the site selection process, NEPA review, is authorized, we will immediately advance into procuring a contractor for the engineering work to begin, and that work should follow. It's hard to say whether we'll get into preliminary engineering yet this year in 2013. But if we're fortunate, we should be into the preliminary engineering phase, and that will then begin to signal our next steps and our next investments. Realistically, when could residents expect to see a new train station in Ann Arbor, assuming all the stars align perfectly?


Steve Sobel of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers captured this shot of the newly refurbished rail cars that are expected to be used for Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail during testing in November.

Photo by Steve Sobel

Cooper: We're probably looking at a 2016 or 2017 timeframe. For people who might not have been following this project closely for the last three or four years, remind me why this is something the city is pursuing.

Cooper: It goes back to a simple visit to the existing Amtrak station. We look at that today and it has accessibility problems. If you're on Depot Street during the peak period, you'll realize you can't get there. The parking provided on the north side of the track is not directly attached to the station physically and it requires a lengthy walk, including grade changes that are difficult and almost impossible for someone who has mobility challenges. So it's an issue of accessibility and capacity.

We now know the state of Michigan is in the process of investing up to half a billion dollars to both acquire and improve the rail line that serves the Ann Arbor station. That station and the service that it has will change. I could use terms like 'dramatically increase.' MDOT and Amtrak have procured double-decker rail cars, so each train — even though it may be the same length — may bring twice as many people coming or going from the city. When you look at the loading and parking areas today and envision increased demand, just based on the size of the trains or the capacity, that's one level of pressure. The hundreds of millions of dollars that are being spent on the rails are intended to decrease the travel time between Ann Arbor and Detroit and Ann Arbor and Chicago, which will bring another increment of new ridership into our community. The question is how do we plan for accommodating the increased traffic that increased rail service will represent to us? I know the promise of commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit is another factor in all of this. Can you explain what's happening around that?

Cooper: We were out there on a recent cold night waiting for the test train to come through. The commuter train passed its testing and we, the city of Ann Arbor, working with SEMCOG and MDOT, continue to support and are enthusiastic about the potential for commuter rail service on that line. If the station is challenged to meet the intercity demands and you layer commuter service on top of that, that's additional pressure for a system that was designed back in the 1970s and early '80s and would not be an adequate transportation facility as a gateway for Ann Arbor.

Look out for Part 2 of's Q&A with Eli Cooper coming Monday. The second installment will focus on improvements being discussed for the North Main corridor, where the next roundabouts might be in Ann Arbor, and other non-motorized transportation issues.

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 email newsletters.



Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

Has anyone realistically looked at demand for this service? What is the current demand, for example, for rail transport from AA to Detroit? Detroit is a dying city, losing population and on the verge of bankruptcy. Unless this rail line was used a commuter line for AA residents who work in the suburbs of Detroit, who will ride it going east, for example? The occasional visitor from AA to the DIA? Who will ride it west? The occasional visitor from Birmingham to AA for a restaurant meal? Will a Birmingham resident take a train from Detroit to AA rather than drive? Where are the other stations between AA and Detroit? Where are the projected ridership statistics in both directions? OK, so a commuter who lives in AA rides this train east for a job in the suburbs of Detroit. How does this commuter get from the train station to the office building where they work? Same issue for someone living in the burbs of Detroit commuting to a job in AA. How do they get from the AA train station to their job in AA? How many UM employees will live on this train line and have conveniently located stations near their homes in cities and burbs east of AA? This isn't the east coast with a high density of population who live in towns and suburbs of Boston, for example, and work in the city of Boston, may of whom take the commuter rail to work. Boston has excellent city trains to take people to various parts of the city, directly from the commuter rail station. I just don't believe there is the demand for this rail service that will pay for it.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

Walking is the best way to get from point A to point B in terms of the environment and personal health, so the more people who walk from the station to work, the better, right? Keeping the station on Depot St. means walking 0.7 miles to the medical complex, but studies show that most people will walk no more than a quarter or at most a half mile before they want to ride. The sidewalk is narrow, it's on the far side of the street from the station, and it's seriously uphill. Especially in bad weather, it's not realistic to expect a majority of passengers to walk from the Depot St. location to the medical complex. So why not run more buses? Depot St. itself is narrow and, in the morning rush especially, congested with cars coming off M-14. The station property on Depot St. is also narrow, making it difficult for buses to turn around. There is no room to put in bus bays. And the Depot St. location is not on the way between anywhere in Ann Arbor and anywhere else. In short, if we expect people to commute by train in significant numbers, Depot St. just won't work. The Fuller Road site, by contrast, is on the main route connecting Central and North Campus, the UM Medical Center and the VA Medical Center. So many buses run there that more people are carried by bus than by automobile. In addition to the big blue U-buses, AATA runs from downtown Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti and out Plymouth Road to northeast Ann Arbor.


Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 3:07 a.m.

The whole "no room for busbays" seems a little dismissive as well. I would imagine that, with that VAST empty property BUTTING UP AGAINST the current station, some amount of rearranging/construction can make plenty of room for parking and bays and turning around. That's kind of a big property down there to just say everything's too narrow. Even if it is too difficult, however, buses always have places they use to turn around when completing routes; they don't do U-turns or 3-point turns in the middle of the street at the last stop. A multi-bus run going ONLY from the hospital to the station and back (which it seems you'd expect to be full all the time) could loop around several of the streets down there. And again, that station is technically closer to downtown than Fuller Park.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:30 p.m.

are requesting I mean. How is the need for a new train station being demonstrated in reality not using idealistic or non-reality based present and future projections?

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

How many patients and employees at the Medical Center is requesting this train and would actually use the train to get there?

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:19 p.m.

You bring up some valid points. However, I would doubt that the Medical Center is the only destination in Ann Arbor even though some people have determined this. So does that mean more taxis and buses at the Medical Center so that all these people who will be using the train and get to their destination within a reasonable amount of time? Does that mean if I go to Detroit, there will be taxis and buses for me to take to where I need to go? Or am I going to be waiting at a bus stop alone in Detroit? Or Chicago? Or can I really afford a taxis to and from my destination after arriving at the train station? Do you really expect sick patients and their families take a train and then walk up or be pushed in a wheelchair up to the Medical Center? Or is this for the employees? I thought the Maiden Lane parking lot was for them. Please I mean no offense, I am sincerely asking questions that should be asked!

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

This entire argument is based on the idea that the main use of the train will be for commuting to the hospital complex. But has there ever been a study that shows commuting by train will be a substantial factor? This would need some scenarios, such as when trains would leave from and arrive, plus the locations that hospital workers are coming from. Also, there is no funding for a commuter train at present. All that has happened (regarding a commuter train operation, which would have to be supported by local funds) is that some old cars have been refurbished. The current passengers on Amtrak are mostly holiday and shopping travelers to Chicago and back. They would be inconvenienced, at a minimum, by relocation to Fuller Road.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

OK, this is perhaps a dumb comment, but the elephant in the room with respect to Michigan passenger rail is that there is NO ACCESS TO THE EAST. I've taken Amtrak to Chicago and other places West on several occasions and have enjoyed the service. But there's no way to get to Pittsburgh or Boston or anywhere else parts East unless you go all the way to Chicago and double back. Ridiculous. Until they fix this, passanger rail in Michigan is sort of a sham and of limited value (and thus warranting limited added resources).

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Questions I'd like answered: How many people will actually travel to Chicago or Detroit and would use the train to do so? Hundreds? Thousands? On a daily basis? What would the fare be? As much or more than airfare? Or will the fare be paid by tax payers in some way? Are the relatively few that will be using this service justify the cost of it? Who came up with this idea and are they being blackmailed, received campaign funds or something to keep promoting this expensive project? Why is this not brought up for citizens to vote on? Who will be paying for it? Answer: our children and higher taxes.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:18 p.m.

Thank you Larry Krieg, I do appreciate the info. If there is already train service with fares that are reasonable and only 150,000 ride the train (is that daily?) then why the astronomical millions?

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

@SSS: In 2012, the "relatively few" who boarded or got off the train amounted to 141,000 people. (The population of Ann Arbor is less than that: 114,000.) The number of people riding the train has been growing steadily as old folks get older and young folks get more interesting in their smartphones than their cars. The fare to Detroit on Amtrak is $12; to Chicago it's $36 unless you take the train at a popular time. Yes, we and our children will pay for it, along with our gas, health care, roads, airports, and air traffic control. Don't want to pay for improvements? Then don't expect business to invest in Michigan! If all 141,000 are being blackmailed to take the train, whoever is doing it has really deep pockets!

Tex Treeder

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

And if you don't have any tools at all, every problem looks insoluable! ;-)

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

Stop the presses: "I asked that question in an email to the mayor on Feb. 12. Still waiting for a response." Lol.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:35 a.m.

STRICTLY speaking in terms of when it's appropriate to get a vote from people, I can imagine the city leaders would feel damned if they did, damned if they didn't, especially after a lot of what I read about how the library tear-down-build-up-again (which was a ridiculous wasteful idea) went. Lots of people expressed concern that there was no real plan. So now, in a world in which the mayor/cronies cared what people thought (which I doubt is the case), they would see people wanting to know what they're voting on. And (supposedly), they need to spend millions upon millions upon millions of dollars ust to get there. However, because of the enormity of this project (and the insane wasteful expense of it), I would say there is some happy medium, like the council deciding on just how many millions of dollars they can spend and still feel OK about themselves before having enough info for a vote (and I imagine the voting process bears a cost as well). Or only doing things to get info, and not actually paying for and completing work to go ahead with it. Or getting some general impression via these web surveys (which are no doubt considered biased by whoever is in the minority). In fact, I recall the water people wanting to spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to conduct a "survey" to find out if anyone was dissatisfied with the taste and/or clarity of their city water. Perhaps, since they see this as a viable way to feel out the public, they could try one of those before putting MILLIONS into studies and design. Just trying to be fair, here. Obviously, they DON'T care what we think, and they've already done much more than just get information together (e.g. the millions spent on preparing the Fuller site, for which I think several people should be fired and perhaps jailed).

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

RUkiddingMe? You'd rather have US 23 expanded to 6 lanes between Brighton and Ann Arbor for half a BILLION dollars? Don't be so sure you're in the majority just because you counted comments pro and con on this thread...


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:56 a.m.

Well, if / when this comes up for a vote, mine will be No. We don't have the ridership as far as I know to support such a pricey increase, and there are other things I'd like to do with my tax dollars like fix the roads and re-surface roads. Additionally, I think our city model is very different from that of Europe or NYC, where there are high population densities in compact locations. That makes it easy to put in lots of public transportation and minimize walking. Locations are far too spread out here, and changing routes - especially when there aren't frequent trains or buses eats up time and adds a lot of inconvenience. Add in the months of inclement weather, and convenience factor starts to weigh heavily in the "car" category...

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

@kuriooo: About city models... With a density of 1,536 people per square mile, southeast Michigan has the density to support rail transit. But more than that: building highways encourages sprawl development. (Some have called the Interstate Highway System the largest social engineering experiment ever undertaken in this country!) But to we have to continue living like that? Have we be "engineered" into having to use a gallon of gas to go buy a gallon of milk? who benefits from that? Who suffers? As many other American cities are turning to rail, is southeast Michigan at a disadvantage, locked in to one mode of transportation? Consider cities as different as Miami and Minneapolis. Both have recently build commuter and local rail systems. Both are growing. In Michigan, we've turned up our noses at rail and we're shrinking. Could there be a connection?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

You make two good points that I often think about when topics like this come up, but I have follow-up questions: I get that people want to see ridership justification for investment, but doesn't that come after the improvements? Given that the majority of this funding is external and dedicated to rail, I think the tax dollars argument is a little off-base. The city has a street millage for that, and to my knowledge, general fund/other capital dollars do not go above and beyond that millage. Do you mean you'd rather focus on whatever core services the City could provide with its share? Would it be better if Ann Arbor was more dense? I'll flip your last point around: when it gets snowy, the LAST thing I want to do is drive. Wouldn't it be much safer to take the train to Detroit than to drive there in 4"?

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:23 a.m.

What happened to all those AATA people who were working on the expanded tax and bus service that was overwhelmingly voted down? They had time to work on that stuff, so what are they doing now? Why are taxpayers still paying them? Can't they be out patching potholes instead of dreaming up more ways to spend our money?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 4:22 a.m.

Ann Arbor didn't get to vote. Representatives of other communities did.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11 p.m.

And the same staffer is also overseeing the design of an Ann Arbor train station. No, not that one. This one is for the North-South train (WALLY). No, there is no money for the train service. No, AATA doesn't have access to the train tracks through town. But their FIRST priority is design of the downtown station (probably in the Liberty-Washington area). No, you can't make this stuff up.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

"overwhelmingly voted down" No, not voted down by the citizens. Officials didn't let it come to a vote. When people vote, they overwhelmingly vote to pay for transit - if they trust the agency that runs it, which is generally the case for AATA. Remember, Ypsi voted to tax themselves for transit in 2010, and they're already more heavily taxed than most. What are they doing now? Concentrating on expanded service in the "urban core" areas of AA, Ypsi, and Ypsi Township.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

Buses are far more flexible than trains. They can route around problems, and freight traffic. Buses are quieter. They can be flexibly scheduled to meet demand. They don't require expensive infrastructure. Trains are about nostalgia, not logical planning. Put this to a vote before blowing more of our money.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 4:21 a.m.

"2) They're more energy-efficient (steel on steel vs. rubber on asphalt)" Efficient? That is impossible when you take into account the *enormous* costs and fixed infrastructure. And rail leases to the railroad barons. And taxpayer subsidies that never end.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Trains have four real benefits over buses: 1) They carry more people 2) They're more energy-efficient (steel on steel vs. rubber on asphalt) 3) They're more comfortable and enable more productive use of time (it's hard to use a laptop or tablet bouncing around in a bus: trust me, I've tried!) 4) Their relative permanence encourages compact, sustainable development around stations. Glad you feel the nostagia, but look at places that recently put in rail (like Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix). You'll see that the logic is there too, and it really works!


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

I would love to be able to park easily (free would be nice) and take the train to Chicago. I really dislike driving there. Reliable and fast train service would be great.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

You can currently park free in the lot across the tracks of the current train station. (You have to walk across the bridge.) If the Fuller Road station is built, it will almost certainly have a parking structure with it. Parking will not be free. Those things are expensive.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:17 p.m.

In case anyone is curious, one of the many other questions I asked Cooper when we talked was: Why are we working on all these grand long-term plans — things like the Ann Arbor Connector, Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, a new Amtrak station, regional transit, etc. — before we even expand regular bus services in Ann Arbor? The gist of Cooper's response: "I don't see this as an either-or question. I believe that AATA is doing its job in doing the year-to-year service adjustments that they feel are in the community's best interests."

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

@kejamder - AATA is "sort-of" its own authority. Board members are appointed by the Mayor of Ann Arbor, and the bulk of local revenue comes from a dedicated millage in the City of Ann Arbor. And things AATA does affec ts the city by helping to shape transportation options, hence growth patterns. For example, if a rail line is decided on for the "Connector" (north-south), that impacts the city by needed to be paid for, and also by raising development and taxable value along the route. Pretty big impacts!


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

Is AATA not its own authority, making its own decisions? how would that affect the things the city does? And isn't this kind of like asking someone how they could possibly consider taking on a 30-year mortgage when they have an outstanding credit card bill? Whether you agree with the specifics or not, obviously it's appropriate to do short-term and long-term planning at the same time.

Stephen Landes

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:55 p.m.

Mmmm -- NOT spoken like a transportation planner!

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:44 p.m.

According to NSC's annual report. This is what they say about it: "Other income – net was $129 million in 2012, $160 million in 2011, and $153 million in 2010 (Note 2). The decline in 2012 reflected fewer gains on the sale of property, decreased coal royalties, and higher interest expense (net) on uncertain tax positions offset in part by higher net returns from corporate-owned life insurance (COLI), increased equity in the earnings of Conrail, and higher rental income. During the fourth quarter of 2012, we closed on the sale of certain assets to the Michigan Department of Transportation. The associated gain on the sale has been deferred until we cease to have ongoing obligations associated with the assets, which is expected to occur within the next 12 months."

Stephen Landes

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

Ryan -- How about asking him when the City will put the conversion of parkland to train station on the ballot? This is not just about NEPA 4(f)! We, the people of Ann Arbor, must give our approval, too, in a vote.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

The general idea is, do the study (should be done close to the end of this year). See what the recommendations are. If the best site comes out to be the current location, there's nothing to vote on. If the study gives the nod to Fuller Road, it will say why, and the voters will have information to base their decision on. (Those who base voting decisions on *information*, that is.)

Stephen Landes

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:54 p.m.

Ryan -- nice to see you are top of your game. After a decent period of waiting you can include that information in one of your articles and note that after x weeks the mayor failed to respond. That should be interesting :)


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:47 p.m.

Ryan, that is a WONDERFUL question, thanks for asking it. I do hope that if, after a few gentle reminders, you still receive no clear response, you include that fact in any future articles about this project. It's certainly not a frivolous question, and at this stage of the game, a lack of CLEAR response on it seems as important a detail as receiving one.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:01 p.m.

I asked that question in an email to the mayor on Feb. 12. Still waiting for a response. I specifically asked which would come first - the $2.6M final design for the train station or the public vote on whether to go forward with it?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:16 p.m.

Wow the State of Michigan really got taken to the cleaners when MDOT paid $135 million to Northfolk Southern for some railroad track. There are good reasons why passenger rail has largely been a failure in Michigan and the rest of the United States for so many years. Upgrading the track for higher speed travel besides being incredibly expensive will only at best serve a small fraction of the Public. Environmentally this service will have virtually significant positive impact. People need to start thinking critically and realistically when it comes to transportation and other large infrastructure projects or environmentalism will devolve to the level of just helping crony capitalists with environmental pretensions but good political connections get large subsidies and make big profits off the government and in turn taxpayers in general.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Larry Krieg, and if the train station is nowhere near where I work or want to go then what?

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Rail is the most environmentally responsible method of transportation other than walking and biking. Anything we can do to make rail more convenient for people will be a true help to the environment. Whether this is the best use of the land designated as parkland is up to the citizens of Ann Arbor to decide, so I will not comment on that issue here. The study that's under way will bring up the engineering, cost, and transportation details, many of my fellow commentors are asking for. The people will decide based on these facts – which is as it should be.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

"Some may not like the answers city officials give us sometimes, but we've asked the questions." The role of a reporter is not just to ask a question but to follow up to get at the truth. The complaints in the comments are that you take as gospel "the answers city officials give us sometimes". Most of us believe that "city officials" are prone to evasion, and sometimes even lie. Accordingly, we expect tougher follow-up questions. We also expect the reportage to include those who disagree with said city officials, including dissenting city officials.

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:44 p.m.

I wonder how many other municipalities in Michigan, or the U.S. have paid for their own Amtrak station as opposed to the Fed, Amtrak, or a private railroad entity? It's a sincere question. Is this unique--especially for a city of Ann Arbor's size, currently served by 4-6 train stops per day?

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Amtrak doesn't pay for local stations anymore, though it was given ownership of the Ann Arbor Station during the early 1980s. There is help from federal and state agencies, though. In Michigan, Kalamazoo recently renovated their station and made it their intermodal transit center; Battle Creek opened their newly rebuilt intermodal station and transit center a few months ago; Dearborn and Troy have broken ground on new rail stations; East Lansing and Grand Rapids are in the planning process for their new Amtrak stations. All of them used a combination of federal, state, and local funds.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:19 p.m.

This seems a good time to remind readers of a white paper prepared by opponents of placing a train station in Fuller Park. (Not prepared by me.) It has a lot of details. I've recently updated my Transportation Page with links to the Governor's budget. The transportation funding in that budget deserves some study, especially when making predictions about any project requiring state transportation funding.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

The white paper you mention does have a lot of facts, but it leaves out some important facts and generally paints a one-sided picture. Why can't we discuss these issues in a more rational way, and consider all the facts?

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Thanks to everyone for getting a rigorous discussion going on this topic -- and on a Sunday morning, no less! It's entirely fair to note this isn't an all-encompassing Q&A about the train station project, and it wasn't intended to be. This is one small snippet of an hour-long conversation I had with Eli Cooper where I simply asked what we're going to see happen this year with the train station project, and then we moved into a dozen other topics ranging from the Southeast Michigan RTA to potential improvements coming along the North Main corridor, roundabouts, pedestrian safety, bicycling, etc. As I went to type up the Q&A, I realized I had so much material that it made sense, from a readability standpoint, to separate out the stuff Cooper said about the train station project and make that the first part of a two-part Q&A. But as far as pressing Cooper and other city officials on the need for a train station or how the station will be funded, we've done that repeatedly over the last four years. Some may not like the answers city officials give us sometimes, but we've asked the questions. From a Feb. 12 story I wrote: Cooper said the city anticipates the Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program will cover 80 percent of the overall costs for the train station project with the remaining 20 percent provided from local, non-federal funds. "Recognizing the project is in the early phases of planning, the cost estimates are very preliminary, as are the anticipated non-federal funding sources," he said. We also noted this about the project in an Oct. 16 article: The approved resolution stipulates that once the project moves along and more work is done, it eventually will go to a vote of the people before construction occurs.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:34 p.m.

Ryan... thanks for your reponses.. most appreciated.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:20 p.m.

Here's a link to the Feb. 12 article:

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

"the city anticipates..." This might better be said "the city guesses" or even more, "the city hopes". There is no background given for this statement, especially remarkable since the HSIPR program (part of the stimulus program of President Obama's first two years in office) expended all its funds and was not renewed by Congress. This is not quite "asking the questions". BTW, helpful to include a link when you are referring to one of your past articles. You did not provide one for the Feb. 12 story.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Ryan,it's good of you to take the time to address these --let's say rigorous -- questions about your questions. However, the fact that these issues were addressed in past discussions with these people does not indicate a lack of need to CONTINUE to address them. In this case, I would say the father this thing goes, the MORE important it is to continue to ask the same questions at every opportunity. Also, I think the question "what, if anything, would actually cause this project to end? What are 2 scenarios that would result in this new train station idea to cease, and money to stop being spend on it?" are worth asking, and I have not seen them asked. Or some version of these questions. I realize I'm not the reporter, and all us curmudgeony readers have our own concerns, but this seems like an objectively good question, especially given the money that's been spent over the last 3 years. Thanks for your efforts, but please, try to get a little more in these people's faces; we as citizens need to start rabblerousing at council meetings, but until we do, you're one of the only people getting paid to do it.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

It has become very clear that there is something at work here other than a well-intentioned effort by city leaders. For some reason, the cheerleaders of this enormous expense continue to press for it, in the continued face of insurmountable evidence that it is in fact NOT necessary by any stretch of the imagination. The 2010 Q and A was an obvious sell job (complete with powerpoint slides showing cavorting citizens enjoying the new station), the mayor has sent letters to citizens (I still don't know how that mailing list was generated; I did not receive this letter), and has used very deceptive points to push for it (e.g. Amtrak was in support of it [surprise, seeing as they would get a brand new station at zero cost to them], the new station would be close to downtown [although the proposed site was actually slightly farther away from typical Main street destinations than the current station, if my pedometer is accurate], etc.). It's also clear that the huge sums of our money will continue to be POURED into this unless some massive public outcry takes place. People, they already started spent millions on studies and actually physically preparing the Fuller site; MILLIONS. Common sense will not stop them. Embarrassment will not stop them. They won't even need to apologize for the incredible waste, mismanagement, and probably criminal incompetence. It looks like the only thing that can even slow this down is a continuous and impressive showing of outraged residents at council meetings. Ryan, it seems like a GREAT question to ask would be "what, if anything, would actually cause this project to end? What are 2 scenarios that would result in this new train station idea to cease, and money to stop being spend on it?"

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Trust someone to bring up a conspiracy theory! If all other arguments fail, introduce a mysterious evil force. Why not mention black helpcopters?

Macabre Sunset

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

It's too bad Eli doesn't understand that we don't live or work in Manhattan, and solutions outside of the scope of choo-choo trains are necessary. What Amtrak provides is adequate. For far less money, Ann Arbor could hire a service to hover around the parking area and provide support for a disabled person needing help walking the few feet to the station.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Does the population density of southeast Michigan justify investment in rail? Yes. Ask anyone commuting in traffic. The four southeast Michigan counties have (2010 census) a total population of 4,155,886 and a density of 1,536 per square mile. Several U.S. Metro areas with similar population and density have regional rail service.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

I was puzzled by the statement that "up to half a billion dollars" is being invested in the rail line. I had seen this release and you, Ryan, have quoted the same figures for money spent to improve the line - which add up to less than $400 million. Is this the "half a billion" that Mr. Cooper is citing or is there a separate fund that has not been reported elsewhere?

Sam S Smith

Wed, Feb 27, 2013 : 2:15 a.m.

Wow just think --what they would be spending on this and how it could help reduce the budget deficit!

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Actually, rereading the article, here is the actual claim about the half billion dollars: "We now know the state of Michigan is in the process of investing up to half a billion dollars to both acquire and improve the rail line that serves the Ann Arbor station." This does not seem to include (legitimately) the funds spent by the Illinois DOT or the train stations authorized elsewhere.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

Thanks for the full accounting, Ryan. Some of these items, I note, are MDOT expenditures and then adding in station improvements ups the total. It is to some extent a matter of definition.

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Half a billion is a round number. Here's Cooper's math if you want precision (these are figures related to the Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac corridor from MDOT's website): FY 2009 funding: · $40M for stations in Troy, Dearborn and Battle Creek · $71M Indiana Gateway – improvement needed for high speed access to Chicago (Indiana DOT) · $130M Englewood Flyover – improvement needed for high speed access to Chicago( Illinois DOT) FY 2010 funding: · $150M for Improvements and acquisition by MDOT · $15M West Detroit Connection Track Improvement · $4M for Chicago to Detroit Corridor Planning FY 2010 supplemental funding · $196.5M Infrastructure Improvements · $5.2 M Deferred Maintenance · $2.9M West Detroit Universal Crossover · $195M railcars · $3.5 M Ann Arbor Station Cooper says, "All totaled the federal investment for high speed rail including Chicago to Detroit/Pontiac service is $612.1 M with an additional $201M for improvements outside of Michigan to upgrade tracks south of the lake to access Chicago."

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Vivienne, it's easy to overlook the words, "up to", isn't it! As you know, many agencies are investing in our rail corridor, and it's not easy to decide which projects to include. For example, are the stations in Battle Creek, Dearborn and Troy to be included in the investment or not? Your choice!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

as a sidebar i have a loved one who lives in Chicago who many months ago gave up on the train for the Mega Bus when she comes home. Cheaper, faster (as fast) , more reliable.

Larry Baird

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

" during the course of the first half of this year, we will be going through a process of developing the documents and engaging in a public process with those. " We have been waiting over four years for a "public process" to begin. "..remind me why this is something the city is pursuing. Cooper: It goes back to a simple visit to the existing Amtrak station...." Really? The original grant request was for a 700 car parking structure (Fuller Station - Phase 1) for UM employees and your original grant partner was UM. Also, if you dig a little deeper - the Section 4(f) requirement's state you must eliminate any sites on public parkland such at Fuller when a "REASONABLE AND FEASIBLE" alternative site exists such as the existing station site on Depot that does not use public parkland. However, the city has created an overly restrictive project need, scope and purpose that essentially stacks the deck against the Depot site and in favor of Fuller. For instance, the current analysis of the existing station site does not allow for the consideration of any of the Michcon land becoming available for expansion of parking or moving the station to the north side of the tracks. While at the same time, the city is now negotiating with Michcon to lease part of the site for commuter parking for the commuter rail demonstration project. There also has been no mention of a "NO BUILD" alternative being analyzed. Most Section 4(f) reviews typically require a "NO BUILD" alternative to be included. The basic need/justification for building an alternative must first be "officially" justified - meaning the "No Build" alternative must first be eliminated within the review process. If the city is having trouble justifying this NEED to us residents, hopefully the FRA will see through the bias that still exists within this so-called "public process".

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Temporary lease of the former DTE land for parking is one thing; permanently committing to it is quite another. The No Build alternative is required and will certainly be done. There's no problem demonstrating need! The only problem is getting some people to look down the road a little beyond the end of their noses!

Ren Farley

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

We can be reasonably sure that the population of Michigan age 65 and over will increase by at least 50 percent in the next thirty years. That means a substantial increase in spending for health care for the older population and an increase in employment at the U of M. hospital. At present, in the course of a year 20,000 are employed at the U of M hospital and many more are clients or visitors or sales people. There is great competition among hospitals for clients at present with the medical centers in Detroit doing reasonably well. A rail station at Fuller Road, I should think would make it easier for the U of M hospital to compete for business and staff. We need to think about the economic future of the state of Michigan. There is a great deal of research linked to engineering and science occurring in Detroit, in the research centers of GM and Ford, at U of M and at MSU. It seems appropriate to use tax dollars to develop the rail transportation system that would facilitate the movement of individuals in the emerging scientific corridor that may be anchored by downtown Detroit at one end and Grand Rapids at the other. There are some very positive developments in the city of Detroit, especially downtown, in Midtown and along the riverfront. Detroit's leaders could promote the city as a midwestern center for conventions and for tourism linked to its cultural events, sports teams and museums. Fast rail service to Chicago and other midwestern cities would encourage tourists to visit the Motor City

Larry Baird

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Yes, demographics will favor the healthcare industry. However, the U of M system is becoming more decentralized - 2000 employees now work at the North Campus Research Complex on Plymouth Rd. including the recent announcement that the Hospital's CEO has moved there as well. Future growth will occur closer to their clients - on the fringes of town and beyond- outpatient facilities will grow east of 23, on the westside on Jackson Rd. and even a large new center in Northville at 8 Mile and Haggerty. The business model is changing from centralized locations to decentralized locations.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

"At present, in the course of a year 20,000 are employed at the U of M hospital and many more are clients or visitors or sales people. There is great competition among hospitals for clients at present with the medical centers in Detroit doing reasonably well. A rail station at Fuller Road, I should think would make it easier for the U of M hospital to compete for business and staff." Get off at the existing Depot St. station and take a taxi one mile to the front door of the hospital. Just as fast as getting off the Fuller location and walking up to the hospital. Easier to without burdening the tax payers.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

If the primary purpose of a train station is to serve the UM Hospital, then let them pay for it. Why should a2 taxpayers be subsidizing the UM, yet again?

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Expanding parking at the existing station, onto the DTE site, would be very cost effective and serve a dual purpose. It would provide parking for Amtrak riders and park users. Assuming the former DTE site will be turned into a park/mix use. Spend another $1.0 - $2.0 million to expand and renovate the existing train station and we could have a very attractive, functional station for minimal cost. The only reason for wanting a new station at the Fuller Park location is to benefit the U. Our money should not be used to do this. Stop spending anymore money until this goes to a vote.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Ryan I had asked that you do a follow up interview with questions that those opposed to the station might ask. That was deleted why? I do not believe I belittled anyone! If this is PART 1 when when will part 2 be posted? Will you ask tougher questions?

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

I have asked your first four questions and the answers to those questions have been reported through our regular coverage. I'm not sure whether the statistics you're seeking in numbers 5 and 6 exist, but I can ask.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:22 p.m.

Ryan It seems you are more of a cheer leader in this. Do you ride the train? Just curious. 1)Is it still the city's expectation that the feds would put up 80% of the costs? 2)How realistic is that expectation? 3)When will residents get to vote on this? 4)Wouldn't it be wise to get approval before further funding? 5)Are there any statistics concerning the number of handicapped riders board in Ann Arbor? 6)Are there any statistics that show how many of the riders are Ann Arbor tax payers?

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

Do you have a specific question in mind?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

The probable "REAL" cost of constructing the "Ann Arbor Station": $79,596,000 From:


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

Close to $80,000,000 for a new railroad station is outrageous. It is great that you can be for almost anything when you use other people's money to pay for it. Advocates for this rail plan should have real skin in the game. I bet if they did, they would act far more responsibly.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Is the cost excessive? Not really. The newly-opened $50+ million "Library Lot", for example, cost $72,000 per parking space. MDOT is building a new $32 million interchange on I-96 at Latson Road to make it easier for people drive to the Livingson Commons Shopping Center – and it's only half a mile from another interchange. Building a expanding the station at Depot St. may turn out to be quite expensive because of space constraints, environmental issues (it's in the Huron River flood plain) and the need to remain open for business during construction. And remember, we pay for all our transportation modes (road , air, and rail) through taxes as well as user fees.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Ryan, Simple question -- in other Ann Arbor articles, the writers are engaging with the commentators. This is a new trend at and I applaud it. But, unlike other writers who correspond, you don't seem to do that. Why?

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:33 p.m.

Ryan. Fair enough. Thanks for your reponse and thanks for your response on the other comments as well. Nicely done! Sorry it's a Sunday.... but an article like this would get a bunch of feedback....

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

Kai, I was enjoying my Sunday morning tending to personal affairs, but I am jumping in and responding now. I do comment on the site quite a bit.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

"This will knock about 30 minutes off the travel time between Detroit and Chicago, reducing the overall trip time between the two cities to about five hours. " It takes that long to drive by car. If that's a high-speed rail, then a normal car ride is a high speed car. If it goes back to Fuller, then I'd like the environmental report to be complete The previous report listed spills in the area but it did not include the phosphoric acid/oil spill that went unsolved and ran beneath the University of Michigan in that area.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

How does a one-time acid spill affect the suitability of the site for a train station? Part of the EPA regulations is to make sure that any contamination is documented so the new owner/operator can be held responsible for cleanup of any future spills but not be held liable for cleanup of previous events. What is the long-term effect of the acid spill? None. That is why it can't be investigated. Give it up.

G. Orwell

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

@Kai I wouldn't put much faith in the environmental report if it is paid for by the city. These reports are severely biased in favor of the party paying for them. The report needs to be a truly independent report.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

Here's how it connects. When they made the environmental report for the Fuller Station, they listed a series of spills that happened in the surrounding UofM area -- the size of the spill and the location of the spill. The acid/oil spill was not included in that report, although it was certainly within the range of spills listed in that environmental report. The environmental report was incomplete. Since the EPA/DNR/HRWC/City Police ignored the spill, then it illustrated how the University has autonomy over certain areas of the Huron River and properties that are adjacent to it. So the University would have power over the area in that area and spills that occurred could feasibly be ignored by the agencies above (if the past events reflect the role of future events). It's not clear what steps/lessons were learned after that unsolved spill to: 1. avoid spills in the future, 2. solve spills in the future and 3. prosecute spills in the future.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

The acid spill did not come from a passenger train, so I don't see how that connects.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

deb. i agee.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Actually it doesn't take that long to get to chicago by car . . . It takes about 3.5 to 4 hours in my experience

Arno B

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

So Mr. Eli has had experience as a "Transportation Planner" in New Jersey. Ask him about the Camden to Trenton Light Rail Transit project. The subsidies needed to keep the 30 mile project operating have been way more than those in the initial grandiose proposals for the project. I note that neither he nor anyone is stating what the "planned" subsidy will cost for the new station and related schemes. "110 mph trains to the Indiana border." Speeds like this won't work with grade crossings all along the way. Left un-mentioned in all of this talk is the role of Amtrak. Ask Mr. Eli how much Michigan taxpayers are shoveling into annual Amtrak subsidies. States are being asked to pick up more Amrak costs or trim services. This includes the Pontiac - Chicago line. "We are put in the position of either paying for the Amtrak services or having no Amtrak services" says a Mr. Tim Hoeffner, director of the office of rail for the MI Department of Transportation. He estimates that Michigan's cost for Amtrak services could double to more than $25 million. In 2008 Congress approved shifting Amtrak costs to the states this fall: another example of the folly of relying on Washington's political promises. See the full article in the Wall Street Journal for Jan. 23, Page A2. Perhaps Mr. Eli could explain where all of this money is to come from (Hint: Look in the mirror). He also mentions a $37.5 million sum paid by MDOT. Where did all of that money come from? I suspect that most of it was siphoned from Highway and vehicle tax receipts. If Amtrak gets a bigger subsidy will Greyhound be far behind? Greyhound busses stopping in Ann Arbor say "Owned by the State of Michigan" - painted right on the sides of the busses! I have not been able to find out where this money came from nor what fantasy justified it. Perhaps Transportation Managers have answers to most questions like this but obviously don't like to talk about them.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:48 p.m.

Planners for transportation projects consistently overestimate benefits and underestimate costs of those projects. It is most likely that is being done here big time.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Ryan I would challenge you to try to get a follow up interview,with the understanding the questions will be more directed towards current data. And please be sure to inform us as to how quickly that interview was declined.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

We're going to continue reporting on this project each step of the way. I imagine I'll have many more interviews with Eli Cooper and others about this project.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

One should not fault Eli Cooper's enthusiasm for establishing fast train service between Detroit, Ann Arbor and Chicago as well as for alternative transportation along the Plymouth, North Campus and State Street corridors. Otherwise, he would not have that job. Unfortunately, the future needs for upgrading railway service between Detroit and Chicago are speculative without any hard data supporting proponents expectations. Any changes to public transportation services within Ann Arbor and proximate surrounding areas can be managed by the AATA adjusting routes and the use of its equipment. No documentation of cost savings or other benefits from substituting trolley or light rail services has been provided. Ann Arbor tax payers deserve documentations of the benefits which will be derived from spending up to $66 million or more for establishing new alternative public transportation. At this time the facts do not justify the expense.

Sam S Smith

Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

141,000 people for the year of 2012? And you want us to pay out astronomical millions and ever growing millions in costs? Sounds selfish and a way for someone to get rich while we pay for it!

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Ridership has been growing steadily, except for a slight dip in 2009. The station is regularly full (standing room only) on weekdays and weekends. Over 141,000 people got on or off the train in Ann Arbor during 2012. How much "harder" do you want the data to be?

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

They need to stop pretending and put this to a vote - before more money is blown. Especially their desire to misuse parkland. The same for the AATA boondoggle push for expansion.

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

No need to keep it as a parking lot. The City should return it to a proper park and recreation use as soon as UM finishes its parking structure on Wall Street.

Basic Bob

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:29 p.m.

There's plenty of other ways to "misuse" public land. For non-pet owners, there's the dog parks. For non-golfers, there's the golf courses. There's the canoe livery, the airport, the soccer fields, unused maintenance barns, and the jail that benefit some residents and non-residents, but most benefit none. Yes, we can even take some of that public land and make it a perpetual parking lot for UMHS employees. To my mind, a train station is far more appealing and useful than a gravel parking lot. And the existing public land that the train station sits on can then be put to a more practical use. On second thought, the Ann Arbor train station should be relocated to Ypsilanti.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

"We now know the state of Michigan is in the process of investing up to half a billion dollars to both acquire and improve the rail line that serves the Ann Arbor station." Never look a gift horse in the ... Hey, jobs! Out of the $10 billion high-speed rail "stimulus money" approved during the U.S.recession (previous one), $8 billion is now being spent so that is "real" borrowed money - not the other kind. Illinois got $100 million for its St. Louis-Chicago line upgrade and now has $404 milion that was redirected from Republican States to upgrade the Detroit-Chicago line. How that Fed money is actually being spent remains to be itemized. The new Sumitomo & Nippon-sharyo factory in Rochelle Ill (near Chicago of course) was awarded $352 million out of $800 million earmarked for U.S.made equipment. They are to build 130 double decker cars for the Ca, MI, Il, Mo. projects. Unfortunately, those high-top cars are regular train cars, not the true high-speed bullet cars. Because the MI tracks are shared with freight their structure prevents high-speed travel and are normally capped at 75 MPH. The 110MPH speed lines are uh, brief, and above cap speeds are known to be accident prone. A separate line would have to be installed in MI for true high-speed rail travel to exist. Probably requiring some new high-speed rail cars too, uh, someday.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

No. Put it to a vote.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:34 p.m. at 49 minutes 24 seconds, in response to a query about any data indicating the need for this, Eli says a 10-year old study showed "interest" in rail from Lansing to Detroit; not only is it ten years old, but it shows "interest", not that something was actually built and wound up working or generating revenue, etc. 52:45: Eli says Amtrak has 75 spots at the existing station, and MIGHT need to double it within the next TWENTY years. So $40 million (and that was JUST the parking portion of this project, not even the station part) for 75 spots over TWO DECADES. 56:25: admits that funding was denied because ridership showed the project was not feasible (no justification). So they decided to do it anyway, to prove that they needed to do it. Thus, the "demonstration" project. This station was (and is still, as far as I can tell) a DEMONSTRATION project. As in "we can't prove the need for it, so we're going to do it to prove we needed it."


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

My apologies for what seems like a double-post;'s auto-filter had removed my previous one a number of times (I'm guessing because the "cure for all our ills" part triggered a false Spam positive). It seems a human later re-posted it for me, earlier in the timeline here. Thanks for addressing, staff

Silly Sally

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

There are hundreds of parking spots next to the station, and DTE (Michcon) sometimes has rented them out for special events such as Art Fair week. I'm sure that if it were my land, the city would have no hesitation in using its power of Eminent domain to seize it. Since DTE has abandoned it, this seems like a perfect time to get it.. There is nothing to study, except what is wrong at city hall. Oh, that silly, silly mayor, with MY money..


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

70 long term and 50 short term spots . . . So a total increase of 30 spots . . .. This also doesn't count the depot street parking


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

Can't the city afford their own PR department?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:55 p.m.

Oh they do have one, check out the ad in the Feb. observer equating pulic safety with he city drinking water program. It is ok to close fire stations as long as there is water in the fire hydrant system is the message there.

Silly Sally

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

What is needed is ample parking, and it exists next door. Unused. He is making excuses because they do not want a usable station; they want a legacy station for the mayor. Oh, so silly, except it is my money and yours, not his. Not silly...

Jim Osborn

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

"And it's our expectation we should be able to complete both the environmental assessment…" There should be no need for an "environmental assessment" for improving or expanding an existing building, the current train station, or using an existing parking lot, MichCon, especially one that already has a large environmental cleanup under it as I write. No new studies are needed for the present location, so none of my tax dollars need to be so wasted.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

The current station and parking lot are in the floodplain of the Huron River. Sounds like an environmental issue to me!

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:29 p.m.

To clarify, the parking lot on the north side of the tracks is on land already owned by Amtrak, along with some vacant (partially treed) land to the west of it. This is a separate parcel from the MichCon property. I try to clear this up at every opportunity, because Mr. Cooper never seems to do so.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:12 p.m.

Nothing more than a PR piece for the pro rail station minority. Not one question representing those against the rail station.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

No. A hundred times, No. Put it to a vote. This individual, while well-meaning, is nothing more than apparatchik who sees only his narrow interests in the world - not the needs of the City, the state, or the country. This city doesn't "need" a new train station any more than we need a brand new, state-of-the-art basketball arena. Of course, Mr. Cooper has all of his "reasons" for a new station neatly lined up - "we need to do it for handicapped people." "We need to do it because one day we might have to service Amtrak's double-decker cars." "We need to do it because Depot Street is old and crowded." Not good enough reasons, IMHO, to expend what's likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars that will be funded through more debt issued by the city. Finally, we need to dispense with the tired old row that it only takes 5 1/2 hours to take the train from Ann Arbor to Chicago. Anybody who has taken the Wolverine knows for a fact that it takes anywhere from 6-7 hours. You might reach the outskirts of Chicago "on time," but you will not cross into Union Station within the allocated schedule. You could probably walk from Gary to the South Side in the time it takes the Wolverine to crawl that distance, given that every other freight train has the right of way. I long ago stopped taking the train to Chicago, because the fact is driving is faster and - when you get to Chicago, you still have your car to use while you're there. No to the new train station. When we're busting at the seams with the current station, we can revisit the question.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

Ryan, The problem with waiting to put the railway station on a ballot is that the city will spend so much money for studies and preparations that the Mayor and administrator will claim that these expenses will be wasted and all for naught if the railway station is not approved. But I will use an old saw and say, "Let's not throw good money after bad."


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:49 p.m.

Put the Amtrak station project to a public vote now. That way if the project is voted down we can avoid wasting a lot of taxpayer money.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:14 p.m.

The City Council agrees with you: "The approved resolution stipulates that once the project moves along and more work is done, it eventually will go to a vote of the people before construction occurs."

Jay Thomas

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:06 p.m.

Agreed. This issue deserves to go directly to the people.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

And again, Ryan, I'm confused about your lack of even remotely challenging questions. You yourself have posted this on a past Fuller Station story: "I asked Amtrak back in August if it had any official or unofficial ridership projections for the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years for the Detroit-to-Chicago corridor, including the number of people getting on and off in Ann Arbor if possible. I was referred to MDOT, which pointed me to a 2004 report found here:,4616,7-151-11056-166461--,00.html "At this point, this is the information we have available," the MDOT representative said. I said the information seemed dated considering a lot has changed in the last eight years and asked again if there were more current projections or if Amtrak had any of its own data, but I came up empty handed."

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

You're correct, I did challenge them to provide ridership projections that weren't dated, and they did not.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

Found one of my posts w/ link to the Q and A session: In the public meeting with Q and A from 2010, when they were trying to sell it as a parking and commuter cure for all our ills: at 49 minutes 24 seconds, in response to a query about any data indicating the need for this, Eli says a 10-year old study showed "interest" in rail from Lansing to Detroit; not only is it ten years old, but it shows "interest", not that something was actually built and wound up working or generating revenue, etc. 52:45: Eli says Amtrak has 75 spots at the existing station, and MIGHT need to double it within the next TWENTY years. So $40 million (and that was JUST the parking portion of this project, not even the station part) for 75 spots over TWO DECADES. 56:25: admits that funding was denied because ridership showed the project was not feasible (no justification). So they decided to do it anyway, to prove that they needed to do it. Thus, the "demonstration" project. This station was (and is still, as far as I can tell) a DEMONSTRATION project. As in "we can't prove the need for it, so we're going to do it to prove we needed it." I lost the time reference for this, but in here is also Eli answering the question of how this new station might somehoe pay for itself, or at least generate some kind of cost-offsetting revenue. He said that POSSIBLY we might be able to LEGALLY charge Amtrak for the use of the new parking spots. That was it. That was the idea, charging the 150 AMtrak parking spots, to pay for a hunreds-of-millions dollar project. I'm not joking, that's all in there. Watch the video, the Q and A starts about halfway in, but the lame sell job in the beginning is priceless as well.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Yes, the Amtrak usage is increasing and improving on the Wolverine line (Detroit-Chicago). Something we can all applaud. But Federal funding support for its operation is ceasing and the State of Michigan must pick up the $25 million a year that it costs just for this one line. This is part of a national switch of Federal subsidy of Amtrak operations to state funding for lines with a shorter in-state run. It is dictated by PRIAA (passed by Congress some years ago but just now coming into full implementation). So at a time when Michigan transportation funding is in a crisis mode, more money will be needed for Amtrak. Is this a good time to be planning a new railroad station? Here is a link to a story about the subsidy switch: P.S. Governor Snyder is proposing major changes to the way transportation is funded in the state, including as one option an increase in the state sales tax. This should be quite a "ride".


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:41 p.m.

Our country and our taxpayers have only limited financial means and the US government has very bad problems with federal debt and borrowing money. Large federal subsidies for transportation alternatives should only be handed out if they have correspondingly high positive payouts socially, economically, and environmentally. Proposed 'high' speed rail service has none of these advantages and instead takes scarce and much-need funding away from real environmental projects

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Veracity, Of course any mass transit subsidy has to be well evaluated in terms of benefit vs. cost. Many people reading this probably think I am against all subsidies. It's not true. But those decisions are granular in nature and based on a lot of analysis, value judgments and predictions of the future. I want to see Amtrak continue and be successful. Can't answer your style of hypotheticals.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:22 a.m.

Vivienne, Is there any subsidy that you would consider too large and expensive? In other words, what amount of usage (that is, passengers per train) would justify public support? In the extreme what would be the cost of transporting one passenger from Ann Arbor to Chicago and back again and who will determine how much that passenger will be charged and how much I will have to contribute to cover the rest of the cost through some form of taxation?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Actually I am very much in favor of supporting Amtrak. We need that rail alternative to long-distance travel. Air travel is getting more and more expensive and will not always be available to everyone. Autos have a whole range of issues. All mass transit requires public subsidy. It is not a business, it is a public service. Many social, environmental, and yes, business benefits. Also, I was once a rail commuter so I know its value.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:45 p.m.

There should be no subsidies for Amtrak whether federal or state. Those using the service should pay the full cost of the service. That is how business and the world in general works.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

Yes, I've heard Cooper make that statement about MDOT being prepared. But does it mean they will really have the money? Transportation funding in Michigan is at a premium. We hope and assume that the current service will be maintained, but it is not proven that funds will be there to increase the frequency of the service. I should have used the shorthand PRIIA, not PRIAA in my original comment.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:35 p.m.

I've asked Cooper about this and his response has been that MDOT has known this shift was coming for years and was able to plan ahead to absorb the cost. A relevant portion of the story you just linked: MDOT officials knew this was coming. It's mandated by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, which shifts Amtrak subsidies from the federal government to the states on routes shorter than 750 miles. The Wolverine route is 283 miles long. There is a trade-off: The federal act also awards millions of federal dollars to Michigan to cover the full cost of new passenger cars Amtrak will start running on the state's lines in three to four years. Most Amtrak routes are subsidized because ticket revenues fall short of costs. In Michigan, the state has been subsidizing two routes, the Blue Water and the Pere Marquette. Until now, the feds had provided the subsidy for the Wolverine.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Thank you for sharing your valuable research, Ms. Armentrout!


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

The passenger usage at the ann arbor station has just recently increased to about the same number of riders that it was servicing in the late 90's.....

Jim Osborn

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

"The parking provided on the north side of the track is not directly attached to the station physically and it requires a lengthy walk, including grade changes that are difficult and almost impossible for someone who has mobility challenges. So it's an issue of accessibility and capacity." Eli Cooper is so very wrong. I have used a much, much busier combined Amtrak / Metrolink station in Glendale, California, that has a pedestrian crossing directly across a double set of railroad tracks. The tracks also are on a major freight line that can carry some of the many imports from Asia from the Ports of Long Beach and Ports of Los Angeles. The crossing at Glendale has gates and such so that people are prevented from crossing the tracks when trains are passing by. Not all trains stop at the station, and nearby they reach speeds of 79 MPH. Besides safety fences, and gates and warning lights, the actual walkway near the rails has been filled, in minimizing the disruption to the walking or rolling surface. It is so much smoother than any street crossing, that even a wheelchair could cross there. But just as at the Ann Arbor station, that is not necessary, as there Is ample parking on the same side of the station for handicapped parking. When I was a college student, I would often take an Amtrak train from a "station" in Del Mar, California. The train just stopped at a point along the tracks and people got on the train. Everyone standing along the tracks could see and hear, and feel the approach of the train, and it was never an issue. There is a huge parking lot on the other side of the tracks, the city should use it for the train station. Most of the times that I see it over crowded seems to be weekends, as people park their cars for a trip to Chicago. Eli Cooper is bringing up a false point, and he of all should know better. If the city leaders wish to spend our tax dollars fro transportation, they should use real reasons and not misleading ones.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Cooper's point is valid. What about when two trains are in a station? How are you going to get to the second train? If you go back to California, you'll see all the newer stations like Emeryville and Oakland / Jack London Square are built with overpasses. They probably learned the hard way.

Tom Whitaker

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:23 p.m.

"There is a huge parking lot on the other side of the tracks, the city should use it for the train station." ...and that parking lot, plus some additional land to the west of it already belongs to Amtrak!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

I am surprised that this article does not mention that City Council has committed to put the construction of a new train station on the Fuller Park site next to U-M Hospital to the voters for approval, if that site is determined to be the preferred alternative.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:04 p.m.

Ryan, I don't think your answer tracks with my point. Yes, the council has voted several times to spend money. Yes, the latest resolution says that there will be a vote before construction. But how much money will meanwhile have been expended on this project before then? How can the public have a meaningful say on it before having literally millions of city money spent on the project? Stephen Landes makes a point further down in the comment chain that is valuable. If I may rephrase it, the public should have an opportunity to vote on (a.) whether to build a station on Fuller Park and (b.) whether this (a new station) is a high priority for the city in general. Some form of a public referendum, or at minimum a public hearing, should be held before ANY more city monies are spent toward this project.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

Stephen, we've reported that multiple times in the past. It didn't come up in this particular Q&A, but we'll definitely remind people in future coverage. Vivienne, the council has voted to spend the money being spent on this project. It voted in October to spend another $550,000 from the city's general fund cash reserves and passed a resolution stipulating that once the project moves along and more work is done, it eventually will go to a vote of the people before construction occurs. You're right that a lot of money will have been spent on the planning for this project by the time it goes to voters, but it seems the voters will get a meaningful say in whether the actual construction goes forward.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Veracity, I was not implying that this will justify spending additional money.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Vivienne, Having already spent $1 million does not justify for me the spending of up another $65 million or more to complete the project, which, to me, has not yet been justified.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

One problem with this "solution" is that by then we will have so many sunk costs that the voters will be confronted with a very unpleasant choice. We have already spent nearly a million dollars of general fund money and well over that from various other funds on this project, without a clear council direction or public vote. Will the public be asked to sign off only as a formality?

Jim Osborn

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

If they do place this for voter approval, I hope that the council gives real reasons and not false ones or a political "spin" I would at least like to see a proposed commuter train from Detroit stop near the hospital and see if anyone gets off, and if a sufficient demand exists for a new station location. If a new station were built near the hospital, how would a commuter FROM Ann Arbor ever be able to use the station as UM hospital employees would fill the lot. The present station is not as desirable to hospital employees and is not a problem. Something to consider.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

"We will have to outline the purpose and need..." Yeah. Which you haven't done, except laying out CLEARLY inadequate justifications in a pleading and handwringing manner, like that Amtrak expects to need 20 more spaces over the course of the next 20 years. Why is the city trying so hard to waste all of our money on this? In the face of such a clear lack of need? Also, A2 citizens, please take note that they have already spent multiple millions of dollars on this. Please tell your friends, family, and coworkers to start paying attention to this project and how much money is being spent on it.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

BP- The current ridership is just now returning to its heights of the late 90's. Was it inadequate then?


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

There are much higher priority needs both environmentally and otherwise for scarce federal, state and local taxpayer monies than building new 'high' speed rail projects and upgrading tracks for passenger rail. I hope most People are aware that the Federal Government is in a whole heap of financial trouble with an accumulated debt of $16.5 trillion, annual deficits running at $1+ trillion , and unfunded future liabilities exceeding $100 trillion. We should not be spending money on anything that does not have clear, cost-effective payouts. We can't afford them.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

I continue to doubt that the solution to the occasional inconvenience of the current setup requires a completely brand new train station.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:13 p.m.

I don't see this as a waste of money. The improvements to the tracks are going to happen whether Ann Arbor wants them or not, and I think the need has been stated whether you agree with it or not. The current train station is inadequate even for current ridership; it's not easily accessible for cars,not to mention buses, and anyone who's ever had to drag their suitcase from the Amtrak parking lot across the Broadway bridge and down to the station would agree that this is not a user-friendly station.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Ryan, do you feel it's inappropriate to ask some of the tougher but very obvious and very pertinent questions? The lack of any real justification for the expense of this project has been a glaring issue for its entire lifetime. I've posted several times the link to a Q and A session about this project when it was the "Fuller Road" station, with specific references to the minutes and seconds where very inadequate answers were provided to very reasonable (and necessary) questions. For some reason I can't find the articles now, as they appear not to be tagged as "Fuller Station." And don't you think it would have been good to ask about the exact amount of money already spent so far? And the things that were done already (e.g. millions on preparing Fuller site before anyone even knew how this project could, or should, happen? No need to ask why the city doesn't feel any of this incredibly massive project should have a vote of some sort? But let's just say you don't feel it's necessary to push on any of that. I think it's prety obvious this remains a criminal mis-allocation of funds. Eli's examples of the "need" for this NEW station are: 1) It's a tough walk getting to it when you use that one parking lot that's on the other side of thr tracks, especially for disabled people. And at peak hours (which I've observed to be on some weekends; this station is not all bustling very often) 2) People are already spending millions and millions of dollars on rail improvements Why is it OK to spend millions on rail improvements and still take 5 hours to get to Chicago (the driving time, BTW, and last I looked at ticket prices, they were more than the gas cost of driving)?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

Why don't train riders pay the full cost of their service. Amtrak loses large amount of money each and every year so does it make any fiscal sense to double-down on a mistake and hope it will work better in the future?

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Clearly, the investment is worthwhile. With train ridership increasing even in an overcrowded, inadequate station, people are voting for rail service with their feet and their wallets. If we look only at the present, we see a barely adequate station. If we project toward the future, we see a clearly inadequate station, in an inconvenient location, which will lead to more traffic on the streets and more parking spaces needed for people commuting to Ann Arbor. Making the rail option more convenient for them is a far less costly way to solve the commute problem. For example, MDOT estimates the cost of adding a lane in each direction to US 23 is about $500 million.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:28 p.m.

Don't blame Ryan. You can't expect a strong proponent of a new railroad station and passenger rail to be objective and ask tough questions that would undermine the possibility of seeing his personal preferences and desires being implemented.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

I believe I answered some of your questions in my comments below, but I'll reiterate here this is one snippet of an hour-long conversation I had with Cooper about a wide range of transportation topics and wasn't intended to be an all-encompassing Q&A about the train station project. But as I typed up the Q&A, I thought his explanation of what we're going to see happen this year with the already approved and funded pieces of the project, and the state taking over the line, was interesting enough to put out there on its own. I believe this provides some new information/context that we didn't previously have on our site, and obviously it has sparked a good discussion. And I'll say again, as far as pressing Cooper and other city officials on the need for a train station or how the station will be funded, we've done that repeatedly over the last four years. Some may not like the answers city officials give us sometimes, but we've asked the questions. We'll continue to ask those questions in our coverage going forward.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

Johnny: And how much did you pay to get to the train station in A2 (and park) and how much from the Chicago station to your final destination? How much from your hotel to the trade show and back? Etc. Etc. And taking 1 more person in addition to yourself doubles the cost. So look, for the person who travels solo AND wants to take the train or has no car AND has no problem with the train taking as long (if not longer) than driving AND a host of other factors, yes, that occasional person may have a point that the trip is about the same via car or train. And to that person I say, great, there's a train station here and all that works already. Use it. We don't need a new station to make this trip a posibility for you. I would also say it's not worth several million dollars to (MAYBE) shave 30 minutes to make it a 5 hour trip each way.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

" (the driving time, BTW, and last I looked at ticket prices, they were more than the gas cost of driving)?" And how much did you pay to park in Chicago? How about those without a car? How about those that prefer NOT to drive and take the train. As a person who uses the train for BUSINESS purposes, I can assure you it is far cheaper for me to take the train to Chicago trade shows and meetings than it is for me to drive. I will also point out that unless your car is getting around 30 MPG, it is not cheaper to drive than it is take the train. I put in a hypothetical trip for St Patrick's Day weekend.Round trip the train was $66. At $3.959 per gallon and 30 MPG it would cost you about $64 from train station to train station. And we all know that Chicago traffic is usually very empty and never congested.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Agree with it or not, the voters of AA have been very clear: no construction on parkland. Too bad the city council majority does not represent the people.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 9:26 p.m.

Railroads are good for moving freight and that is why I support them. They are terrible and costly for moving people and have been for a long time. That is why you don't see passenger rail all over the place. Passenger rail only makes sense when you have high density population and development like in a big city like New York.

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

Rail is the most environmentally responsible method of transportation other than walking and biking. Anything we can do to make rail more convenient for people will be a true help to the environment. Whether this is the best use of the land designated as parkland is up to the citizens of Ann Arbor to decide, so I will not comment on that issue here. The study that's under way will bring up the engineering, cost, and transportation details, many of my fellow commentors are asking for. The people will decide based on these facts – which is as it should be.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

The composition of City Council changed with the November elections. Therefore, a new railway station faces a very uncertain future, if it has any future at all.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Maybe they know what is best for you, no matter what you think, feel, say or do. Elites usually do.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

What alternative sites are being considered other than the existing station and the Fuller Rd. site?

Larry Krieg

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

he current location on Depot St. is more than half a mile from Main/Huron, from the Diag, and from the Medical Center. Of these places, the Medical Center is the one with the largest number of employees. Even though the Med Center has undergone some decentralization, by far the largest number of jobs will remain at the central complex due to the realities of hospital logistics. And what about the rest of us who don't work there? If you've noticed the large number of buses running back and forth on Fuller Road (AATA and U of M) and the one bus that goes to Depot St., you can see that Fuller is a much better connected location. In transportation, connection is everything.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:51 p.m.

If you are a U of M Hospital employee who would use a commuter train heading for either Detroit or Jackson then you may find a Fuller Road Railway station convenient. For all others who wish to go elsewhere in Ann Arbor rather than to the hospital, you will likely prefer to embark or disembark from a train at the Depot Street station.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

They looked at a number of sites years ago, but the only two I've heard seriously discussed in recent times are the existing Amtrak site on Depot Street and the Fuller Road site.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

The train to nowhere. How about some nice balloon rides from the new airport instead? A2 vision makes cents = 0.00 Insufficient paying customer base density. Needs higher-speed set of tracks & trains. U.S. and MI. Governments are plain old broke. "... Eli's coming, better walk, walk But you'll never get away No, you'll never get away from the burning heartache ..." Eli's Coming by Laura Nyro Played by Three Dog Night