You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Keep Ann Arbor's train station where it is and drop the Fuller Road site

By Vivienne Armentrout

We should keep the train station in Ann Arbor where it is and reject Fuller Road as a new site.

With change comes opportunity. The recent decision by the University of Michigan to pull out of the Fuller Road Station agreement with the City of Ann Arbor offers us a chance to reassess this location as a transit hub, especially for interurban and commuter rail. The only really solid reason for locating what was described as a multimodal train station on Fuller was the need for a U-M parking structure (see my blog post,


Vivienne Armentrout is a former Washtenaw County commissioner.

City officials, especially City Council Member Christopher Taylor, have assured us that long-term plans for a train station are still in place. But the Fuller Road site does not make sense for that use, considering the growth and evolution of that entire Huron River area. Instead, why not use the present Amtrak station and upgrade both the station and the site as funds become available? A gradual implementation of improvements and re-use of a currently functional station makes economic sense and is more sustainable.

Actually, Fuller Road has many disadvantages as a site. Traffic on the road is very congested partly because of the busy hospital complex, and the automobile traffic pattern is difficult and complicated. City Council has acknowledged this with a preliminary plan for a roundabout. Pedestrian and bicycle access to the designated site is poor, especially with all that traffic. Putting the additional demand on this site that a train station and transit hub would require has a potential impact on Fuller Park far beyond the loss of the actual parkland that is now serving as temporary surface parking for the UM. The Border to Border bicycle and pedestrian trail is designed to go through that immediate area, and there have been concerns raised about that conflict.

Another problem with relocating the train station to Fuller Road is the effect on the current free parking for rail passengers. Sierra Club volunteers did an informal count of cars parked in the Amtrak-owned lot on Broadway over the Christmas week holiday and found all 130 spaces occupied, as well as most of the city metered lot on Depot Street. It is difficult to imagine that building new free parking at the Fuller Road site (perhaps a structure?) would be economically feasible. Free parking is offered at most train stations in Michigan and elsewhere and eliminating this option would undercut the success of the increasingly popular Detroit-Chicago rail route and any future commuter rail service.


The current Amtrak station on Depot Street is more centrally located than the Fuller Road site.

Angela J. Cesere | file photo

The current station is immediately adjacent to the Broadway Bridge. Dietrich Bergmann, a licensed civil engineer, has done a preliminary review of improvements that might be feasible for the existing Amtrak station site. One of them is improved access to Broadway from the site. With proper design, this site might have not only automobile access but pedestrian and bicycle access to 4th and 5th Avenues, which both serve as a gateway to Kerrytown and downtown Ann Arbor. Existing pedestrian walkways across the bridge itself would take foot traffic into the Broadway/Maiden Lane commercial area. This would also permit rail passengers to use buses on AATA Route 2C for access to the Plymouth Road area as well as downtown.

Improvement and expansion at the current site could support economic revitalization as envisioned by the RiverUp project, and tie in to the DTE site, which is slated for remediation. The Fuller Road location is relatively isolated.

Of course, the City has already invested nearly a million dollars in planning for the Fuller Road site (not counting the sewer work authorized in support of the U-M project). But those plans are obsolete in any case now that it is not to be a parking structure for the U-M. It is a foolish economy to continue spending on new designs and reworks for the site merely to justify past expenditures. We now have an opportunity to refocus, throw open the design to the community, perhaps even hold a design competition. Let’s take a deep breath and think it over.

Vivienne Armentrout has been active in local issues and politics since arriving in Ann Arbor in 1986. She served for 8 years as a Washtenaw County commissioner and has worked as a freelance editor and writer. You may read her blog, Local In Ann Arbor, at


Michigan Bicyclists

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

New station or not, bicycles should be allowed on board Amtrak trains in Michigan as they allow in other states. This will encourage multi-modal travel opportunities, where people could bike to a station, ride the train, and then bicycle to their final destination. Makes sense right? Does to almost 2000 people who have signed the petition: Amtrak - Allow bicycles on Michigan passenger trains <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> short url: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Larry Krieg

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

I originally opposed the Fuller Road station because (a) I thought a new station should be at the place where the Amtrak line and the Ann Arbor Railroad cross beside North Main, and (b) because the area was originally a park. Point (a) may be true in 20 years, but we can't seem to plan that far ahead these days; and it's true that the U of M Medical Center is the fastest-growing employer in the county. Point (b) is really a non-issue, because the parkland by Fuller Road was exchanged for a woodland area just east of the VA Hospital twenty years ago, and with Fuller Park, Maiden Lane Park, the extensive sports fields, and the Nichols Arboretum all nearby, recreational and park land is in plentiful supply in that area. Vivienne brings up some other points worth considering, though. &quot;Traffic on the road is very congested partly because of the busy hospital complex, and the automobile traffic pattern is difficult and complicated.&quot; True, partly because of proximity to the largest employer in the area. Four solutions are being contemplated, two of which will reduce traffic when they are implemented: the WALLY line, putting people in trains and buses instead of private cars, and the &quot;Connector&quot; transit line from northeast AA through North Campus, Medical Campus, Central and Sports Campuses, and then south. A third solution is the roundabout to speed traffic up. The fourth solution is the commuter service, which - if Fuller Road station is built - will probably be traffic-neutral: allowing some people to commute by train to U of M, which drawing others to park and commute by train to the airport, Dearborn, and Detroit. All-in-all, I've come to the reluctant conclusion that Fuller Road is the best location for the station.

Larry Krieg

Tue, Feb 21, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

[Dialog with Vivienne following her 9:06 PM Feb. 19 reply to my comment...] Wally is only expensive when you leave out the cost of doing nothing: increased congestion, road building, (MDOT says about $500 million to widen US 23), and the need for more parking structures in the hospital area. Just last night I heard moans and groans from people trying to visit patients at the new Mott building. When you include those costs, using an existing railroad line and subsidizing it is a true bargain. It doesn't take being a &quot;true believer&quot; - just seeing beyond the immediate situation to the whole picture. It should be obvious who came up with the &quot;connector&quot; idea: just about everyone concerned with the future of transportation in northern AA and the University area: University transportation, AATA, city planners, city roads department. They have been looking forward to a future that's increasingly congested and expensive to operate. Not expensive compare with the cost of doing nothing! They're being more responsible than those who wish things would just remain the same for the next 50 years.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

Ah, Larry. Your positions are of course familiar to me from reading your blog and your comments on my blog. But I'm amazed that you still keep the faith on WALLY. I'm keeping up my blog post <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and I simply don't understand those of the true faith on this project. Wish someone besides me would do a serious study to update the Banks study on likely ridership. To clarify Larry's comments about North Main: WALLY, if it ever materializes, will not connect with Fuller Road Station. The Ann Arbor Railroad, on which it would run, does not go past Fuller, but instead would be near North Main. So if we build Fuller, we would still not have a station for WALLY. Yes, the North-South connector (which could be light rail, Bus Rapid Transit, monorail, or gondolas) would go through the Fuller location as currently designed. But a transit hub to accommodate that could be designed and built without moving the current Amtrak station. By the way, who decided that we should build that very expensive connector system? Never any actual discussion by the City Council, though they had a working session about it.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:32 p.m.

Nice article. I agree that the current location is the best location, both in the short term and the term. In the short term, the Amtrak station is in dire need of more parking. The abandoned MichCon/DTE site across tracks provides a logical and affordable solution to this problem. Look at satellite image. There is a huge, unused asphalt parking lot adjacent to the Amtrack lot. On any given weekend, the Amtrak lot is completely full and people are even parking on the grass at the entrance. The City and/or Amtrak could easily buy or lease the MichCon lot for additional parking. In the long term, the MichCon site provides even more functionality. It sits near the intersection of the Amtrak line and the north-south Ann Arbor railroad line (proposed WALLY commuter line). It could serve as a central hub for commuter rail from both lines. That said, I don't think commuter rail is economically feasible at this time. But in ten years, the short term city investment in the MchCon site for Amtrak might have additional benefits in the long term (to support commuter rail for north-south and east-west travelers).


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

Bravo Vivienne,Bavo! A voice of sanity and reason amidst the tree-huggers.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

ann arbor has hardly any tree-huggers. if one thinks of tree-huggers as those who represent the environment, then &quot;environmental&quot; groups such as the HRWC weren't involved in this project. from my experience in ann arbor, the stereotype of environmental consciousness does not exist. we have a city with dioxane, but few talk about it. (BTW -- the COO of Pall Corp. resigned the day before the court case). We had a city with an oil/acid spill, but no one talks about it. the idea of tree-huggers in ann arbor is more about the perceived idea, and less about reality. there are only a handful of folks who have the courage to speak out and care.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

just a FYI... Norfolk Southern has not completed the sale of the railway to MDOT. that is still in progress. (I asked Norfolk Southern and they gave me that update)

John Q

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:39 a.m.

Whatever the pros and cons of the two sites, providing &quot;free&quot; parking shouldn't be among them. It's not the job of the city to provide subsidized parking for anyone, whether it be train riders or those living or working or shopping in the city.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

This makes a lot of sense. Why let a perfectly fine site go to waste? In terms of developing a more vibrant riverfront neighborhood, this location is ideal. Also, this site seems more convenient in terms of buses and perhaps one day street cars connecting the station to Kerrytown and the rest of downtown. This site deserves the attention for redevelopment because as a whole, it has much more potential.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

The current train station and parking area is a contaminated pit. No expansion there without proper mitigation prior to distrubing the site. Best to do new construction on the Fuller site. I can't say i've seen anyone use it as a park anyway, joggers passing through maybe, but that's it.

Basic Bob

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.

So you favor disturbing good land and abandonment of formerly useful land? I would prefer the opposite approach.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Amtrak service includes three trains per day from each direction. From Dearborn, 30 miles away, the train arrives at 7:48am, 12:29pm and 7:17pm after a 40 minute ride. Jackson is 38 miles and 40 minutes away. Trains arrive at 1:04pm, 5:47pm and 11:30pm. The morning Dearborn train offers the likeliest opportunity for someone to use it as a commuter service, but their day will run fromm 7:11am when the train leaves Dearborn until 7:22pm when the train arriving at the Ann Arbor station at 6:47pm arrives in Dearborn. While some hospital staff work split weeks at 12 hour shifts the train schedule would fit an 8 hour shift. The time commitment would be 12.5+ hours per day or 62+ hours a week. Trying to encourage substantial employment with this option as a benefit just isn&quot;t going to work....And it also speaks directly to the train carries Med Center employees. If anyone regularly working anywhere in any health related employment commute on this train it cannot be more than a totally temporary choice. There are no Med Center commuters using this station and their would be no users at a Fuller station. This is solely intercity service as it is scheduled currently. To facilitate that service buy or expand the parking structure west of the station and offer it as an additional free parking option.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.

The current train station will never work as a commuter station, which is the whole point of the Fuller Rd. project. Access is very limited and there is no room for the additional parking that would be required. Bus service, which is a needed complement to commuter rail, would have a very difficult time getting in and out, even if off-ramps were built off Broadway as Armentrout suggests. Adding commuter rail service to the Amtrack route would be a huge benefit to Ann Arbor and communities all along the line. With a Fuller Rd. station, it would be very convenient for hospital and U-M employees living in and around communities like Dexter, Chelsea, Canton and Dearborn to simply take the train to work, reducing rush-hour congestion on I-94 and delaying the time when that route will need to be widened. A shuttle bus service along Merriman Rd. could provide access to Detroit Metro, meaning fewer hassles for getting to the airport. Commuter rail is also a spur to economic development in the communities it serves, an we can certainly use that! This whole thing is such a no-brainer, I don't see why anyone opposes it.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Are these the same &quot;hidebound types&quot; who are working on the current bi-partisan effort to create a four county regional transit authority? Ask the state's democrats in Lansing their opinion of Snyder's commitment to expanding public transportation. The M-1 Woodward rail project, a much more heavily populated area than Ann Arbor, was recently deemed &quot;too expensive&quot; by Snyder, Detroit Mayor Bing and the federal government when compared to other alternatives such as a rapid bus network. &quot;What this region needs&quot; is for the government to adequately cover basic services FIRST before diverting millions more of our tax dollars away towards these so called &quot;economic development&quot; projects. You wouldn't by the way be in the real estate business would you?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Yes, very little. Considering that MDOT pegs the cost of freeway construction at $7 million per mile in rural areas, $39 million urban, $100 million over 30 years for an A2-Detroit route is cheap. Extending it west of A2 would cost little more while increasing ridership and anticipating population patterns. Just because the hidebound types at SEMCOG and in Lansing refuse to embrace more than a minimalist approach to commuter rail doesn't mean it isn't what this region needs.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:57 p.m.

&quot;Very little&quot;? These are the figures from the transportation consultants (Steer Davies Gleave) who are managing the Transit Master Plan. Capital expenses for first 5 years, E-W rail: $13.1 million. (No 5-year operating expenses, not operating). Capital expenses at 30 years: $99.1 million. Operating expenses at 30th year (full operation): $7.6 million (one year's expense). Operating a train service requires a complex organization for ticketing, scheduling, taking care of passengers, operating the actual trains, and also paying lease rates for the rails, etc. Operation of a commuter rail west of Ann Arbor has not even been discussed, unless in the hypothetical.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

What do you mean by the &quot;short term&quot;? Five years? It would take very little additional investment to add the stops I mentioned over the next ten years and institute dedicated commuter service along that line from Detroit to Dexter, with several trains running each day. Just because the current SEMCOG model has been hobbled by shortsighted opponents doesn't mean we should accept that as the limit on what is needed or can be done.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

This needs a more comprehensive reply than I can give in a comment. It is important to distinguish between a *desirable* outcome and a *likely* outcome. A Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail system is very unlikely in the short term. See updates from SEMCOG <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> which show that most progress is in refurbishing cars owned by Great Lakes Central Railroad. Some track repairs have been done funded by the high-speed rail program that no longer exists (it was zeroed out by Congress). Transit funding in the US Congress is up in the air. There is simply no money to pay for a commuter rail (which would need an independent operator, not Amtrak) to Detroit. The comments about commuters from Dexter, Chelsea and Canton are puzzling because they would not be served by commuter rail. Governor Snyder's transportation plan and the Regional Transit Authority plan currently in committee at the state call for Bus Rapid Transit along several major corridors instead of rail. They also call for a BRT to Detroit Metro. AATA has just begun a bus service to Detroit Metro. We should not be investing in a new train station in the hopes of a future commuter rail system that is most likely never to materialize. If it does in the far distant future, a completely different location and configuration may be needed then. In the meantime, we should maximize the convenience of our current rail service to Chicago, used by the general public, not just UM employees.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

if it gets moved it's not going to be convenient for a number of people.

Rita Mitchell

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

The existing train station is located in a space that is most useful to the Ann Arbor community for transportation, with proximity to, Kerrytown, Old Town, and not so distant: Downtown. Businesses are already located nearby, and there is potential for increased activity in each of these areas, including dining in the beautiful stone building of the original depot, now the Gandy Dancer. The existing depot area had multiple tracks and that space remains to allow return of those tracks, to support whatever rail service may develop: high(er) speed, commuter, etc. It is in close proximity to the N-S line that has been discussed as the WALLY service. Before looking for other spots, the community should carefully assess and weigh in on the definitions of best location. Fuller Park has been part of the city's park system since the early 1920's, and the parking at the site is based on a temporary, extended agreement with the University. It is possible to return the site to park space by removing asphalt. Not so, if a railroad building is placed there, in isolation from activity other than walking uphill to the UM hospital, or a summer's dip in Fuller Pool. I say: Keep the existing train station and make improvements there.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

This makes more sense to me than fuller road location. the reason; People have to drive deep into the city to get to fuller road which adds to the problems with bus's cars trains all interacting on a 20 acre site. Having parking at the edge of town, campus makes more sense to ease the streets of that traffic. There will always be those that have to park next to their building but there is a growing number that are willing to save parking fees and aggrivation who would be willing to park and ride 10 minutes from their buildings. Take a look at the Chrysler areana lot on any given day, all the employees who opt to park and ride their. Very well thought out plan thank you for this

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

that's a good counterpoint


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

The airports on the outskirts make sense because people do not want to be in the flight paths of 747's or DC-10's or whatever and for safety. Train stations in those major cities were there long before cities grew even larger around them. they have not moved as the safety factors are differnt. is Depot going to be widened to get traffic to fuller? Is Geddes going to be widened? If your entering from state and 94 are you going to drive to the north end of town to park and ride. I say no to all of those options it just not a good option unless you work at the hospital The north main st. area is easily accesible and a light rail across the river to the hospital or turning up state st. would be an easy commute uptown. North main has ample space is a major entrance to the city that is an eye sore.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

stephen... quite true. look at the major cities -- chicago, toronto, etc.... the airports are on the edge of town, the train stations are in the town center.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

While having an airport on the edge of a city makes sense, a train station should be in the center of a city at the location where there is the most amount of foot traffic.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

i heard somewhere that the train tracks were sold to MDOT by Norfolk Southern. is this true? or false? i think i should be able to find this material sale in the company's press release somewhere?

Kai Petainen

Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

it's not true... yet. it's in progress.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

ah... i see this.. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> but i'm not sure if the deal was completed. i see the train track all day, so i wonder if i'll see a decrease in the number of NSC trains going by. i also wonder what impact (if any) that will have on NSC's bottom line. i'm going to double-check with NSC media relations.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3 p.m.



Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

&quot;Commuter&quot; train service in SE Michigan does not presently exist! Amtrak's Wolverine line is NOT a &quot;commuter&quot; service. Therefore, if you move the Amtrak station to Fuller Rd., all those hospital workers will STILL be driving to work. Therefore, all the arguments for the Fuller Rd. site are based on the false premise of a future commuter rail service (which is not guaranteed by any stretch of the imagination or current state and federal budget plans). Let's have this argument if and when a commuter service ever materializes.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

But it is costing the city taxpayers millions of dollars to this point. Road funds and utility funds are being diverted. AATA money is being diverted to the WALLY line project. Even if private developers covered all the construction costs and reimbursed these millions already spent, there is still the issue of annual operating expenses of a commuter train service. The AATA proposed county wide transit authority has a price tag of $250 million plus. County taxpayers will be asked to pick up this cost in addition to the governor's plan to raise car registration fees to fund the proposed Regional transit authority (RTA). The AATA's budget for 2012 dips $1 million into their reserves, a structural deficit, being locked in place as their aggressive expansion plan continues. Now there are hints a county wide millage vote would not take place until 2013 (why delay?). Way too much money has been spent on both the Fuller Rd. site and the AATA master plan at this point with no long term annual funding source identified. I wish we could just have both votes this year, then this issue could be settled once and for all.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

I agree completely that this is a lower priority and we should be spending our limited resources on having better fire and police protection and in fixing the roads. Having said that, I do see an opportunity at the hospital complex location for the city to partner with the private sector and do something big for economic development while increasing the tax base by laying the groundwork for better higher speed and high speed trains that doesn't cost the city a penny.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

In terms of long term economic development planning, both the public and private sector have done a poor job of anticipating what will happen in the future. Case in point - the residential and commerical real estate bubble bursting and the economic consequences still being felt today. The city is spending millions of dollars trying to anticipate a future event that may or may not occur. As you have pointed out repeatedly, the spending priorities of the city are questionable. There is only so much money to go around and other core services deserve a higher priority than this train station.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

The point of long term economic development planning is to anticipate what will happen in the future and do the required steps to have the infrastructure ready when or just before it is needed.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

The tail is wagging the dog. There are pros and cons about the Fuller Road Station. There are a lot of people against the Fuller Road station because of the park land issue. It was a real issue with Huron Hills. It is not a real issue here. This part of Fuller Park is a parking lot, cut off by Fuller Road from the Soccer fields, pool and playground that make up the usable Fuller Park. Separate that land, vote it out of park designation, then see if the Fuller Road Station makes sense or not. (There is one small scrubby unimproved and unmaintained field next to the parking lot. I have been a user of that field when nothing else is available, and it is terrible.)

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

The question of the day is: who in the future will be using this station? UM hospital employees, or people who desire to park for free and use Amtrak and travel elsewhere? UM employees who work at a location other than the hospital will likely need to transfer to a UM bus. One idea is to build a temporary, cheap, train stop, if feasible, by the hospital, and develop the DTE parking lot for expanded free parking by the existing station. Tere would be 2 stations 3/4 mile apart. But then we could see which is more popular. Perhaps they could alternate stopping times. THis could cost 1/10 to 1/2 of what the mayor spend on his study. This is dreaming, but so is building the Fuller station and assuming that most people who would use the train would be hospital employees and not other people.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 3:23 p.m.

@mtlaurel - THat is why I am hesitent to endorse the mayors dream of a hospital location. Will they use it? I do see an over-filled lot now of those who travel away from Ann Arbor to Chicago and elsewhere. What is the market for this train?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:49 p.m.

UMich hospital employees are likely paid well in relation to similar type workers in other settings. My belief is that they purchase cars. Many of the jobs are&quot;shift&quot; jobs and the arrival/departure times are staggered throughout a 24 hr period. Adding the activity of getting to a train with a schedule that does not correspond properly, will not be something a worker with a car will trade for.

Ren Farley

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

We need to encourage employment in Ann Arbor. The population in Michigan over age 64 will rise by 50% in the next 20 years. Henry Ford, DMC and the U of M hospital will compete for the federal dollars that come from providing medical care to the older population. Having commuter rail in southeast Michigan with a depot on Fuller at the U of M hospital is ideal. We need to consider the economic future of the city. Rail transport may be ideal for many of the clients and employees of the U of M and VA hospitals. Let's think about the future.


Sun, Feb 19, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

Old people with canes, walkers,oxygen tanks and wheelchairs just &quot;getting on&quot; the train, navigating stations, steps,slow trips/delays/a myriad of conditions on the train??? between Kzoo/Gr Rapids/Lansing there are plenty of places for aging people to get health care. I believe the same is true in Detroit and suburbs. If the elderly/frail part of society need to come to Univ Mich Hosp, they usually come with family member to assist navigating their visits-they drive-in a CAR-it's more comfortable and convenient than any train service. Lets stop comparing this to [Chicago for theater and shopping].


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

So............ Youth will leave the Ann Arbor area leaving the town and surrounding area to be one large old age home? Is this what you are saying? Please explain.

Tony Livingston

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Probably the Fuller Road location would serve U of M hospitals best. But, I never go near that area. The current station is not far from the hospitals. I am sure the university could route their buses past there for hospital staff.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Iagree with tjhis statement.this has been arond a longh time and works fine. do not fix what is not broken. might do some ugrading butt that is it.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Politics aside, please consider this: 300-400 people get off the train at once. They need to go to (a) north campus, (b) the medical center, (c) central campus/downtown. They are commuters and in a hurry. An entire bus system would need to be implemented to move them from the current train station. There is currently a bus system in place at the new, proposed location near the Medical Center. The Medical Center has the most concentrated group of employees in the city, so they could walk. Busses are already in place to move people from the proposed new location of the train station to North Campus or downtown or wherever they are going. The current location of the train station simply is not near anything or on the way to anything, so we'd have to create a whole new logistic bus system. Why do that when there's one in place which can be utilized? I don't know why it is so hard to find out facts like this about proposed changes in Ann Arbor, and be able to think logically instead of emotionally, before taking a stance about any change. Change can be good and change can be bad. It's the details that make the difference. There seems to be no trustworthy source of information for us.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

Please take a minute from voting for yourself and provide the evidence to support your &quot;facts like this&quot;.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

Please provide the evidence for your &quot;..facts like this...&quot;: - &quot;300-400 people get off the train at once.&quot; - &quot;..they are commuters...&quot; - &quot;..the current location of the train station simply is not near anything..&quot; - &quot;..we'd have to create a whole new logistic bus system.&quot; If you dig a little deeper, Amtrak's ridership information is widely available. The current Wolverine line is not a commuter line. Currently, no commuter service exists. The article clearly states that the current location is within walking distance to both downtown and the Broadway/maiden lane area. If future demand exists for bus service, then AATA and/or UM could alter existing bus routes.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

Are you suggesting that hospital employees ride the train to work? The whole world does not revolve around The University of Michigan.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.

Amtrak is the tip of the iceberg. Under John Hieftje's leadership, our city is becoming known for its failed wild endeavors. Its costly miscalculations appear to follow personal agendas exercised over civic responsibility. 1) Fuller Road folly. Infrastructure improvement for the cancelled Fuller Road parking garage approaches $4 million. 2) Trend of converting public-owned parkland to commercial purposes: Huron Hills, Fuller parking garage, Amtrak, etc. Some view this as theft of public assets, and violation of voter-approved law. 3) Underground parking for the failed hotel and conference center project. Price tag approaches $100 million. 4) Ongoing and extravagant furnishings of city hall and courts, under the guise of &quot;civic art.&quot; Taxpayer price tag approaching $3 million, including funds siphoned from dedicated millage monies. 5) Failed civic stewardship in neglect of roads. Roads are disintegrating, including major thoroughfares, connectors, and neighborhood streets. Residents are able to successfully sue the city for road-related auto damages, following city's willful and longtime neglect of road repair amidst surplus funds. Even the line markings on our roads are worn away. 6) Rush to transfer AATA to an unknown entity. Ownership assets lost. Service definition lost. Budget control lost. Financing unknown. True plan unknown. 7) Contrast the above activity and funding to cuts in public safety, evidenced by annual decreases in personnel of police and fire services, attributed to "budget shortfalls." Ann Arbor has failed in civic stewardship. Public trust is low. Mayor and council appear to care for their secret agendas, to the extent that they no longer serve city residents. Sadly, they have also proven to be unqualified to engage in the level of activities they pursue. Conclusion regarding Amtrak: Let federally subsidized Amtrak pay for Amtrak. The City of Ann Arbor government needs to return to neglected basic civic responsibilities.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

Yet, the majority of voters keep them in office - the mayor and most city council members. Go figure!

Marvin Face

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

Who moved my cheese?


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

Not sniff or scurry. Probably Hem or Haw. :)


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

The Mayor and City Council seem to think that the tax payers in this city are an endless supply of money. One way or another the residents of this city will have to pay for this project. We already have a train station that adequately serves the needs of this community. This is just another example of unnecessary and wasteful spending by our city government

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : noon

Real estate is all about three things: location, location and location. The best site for a train station is where the most number of people are commuting on a daily basis, and that is adjacent to the U-M Hospitals, by far the largest employer in our community and it's economic engine. A site within quick walking distance to the hospital complex would be the best location and attract the most train riders This will also allow more intense use of the site with a mix of retail and medical offices, and enable the city to build the train station without any local taxpayer funds by selling the development rights for the on site commercial real estate uses. The existing low traffic site with free parking is contrary to the idea that the best site is the highest traffic location. Now having said that, the Fuller Road project ought to go to a vote of the citizens because no one can assert with a straight face that they will spend $121 million building it &amp; that it will ever be parkland again! Personally I support the project in concept but NOT if the voters don't approve it first. If it's a project with merit, sell the citizens on that &amp; if you can't convince the citizens, respect the democratic process and move on to other topics.

Basic Bob

Mon, Feb 20, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Even IF the Fuller Road station is not built - no one can say with a straight face that this will ever be parkland. It is a gravel parking lot, and that's not going to change.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

Hey, it takes longer to drive when you stop at the Culver's in Kalamazoo.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 6 p.m.

A train station should be in the center of a city at the location where there is the most amount of foot traffic. The location with the highest amount of foot traffic is the U-M Hospital complex. A location 7/10ths of a mile away is inferior. Location, location, location. I would say that if a pedestrian path was built alongside the railroad tracks (but at a safe distance), the existing free parking could still be used by those who didn't want to have to pay to park, or were taking a long trip. Interestingly, the current trip on the train from Ann Arbor to Chicago is 4 hours and 46 minutes and 4 hours and 16 minutes by car according to Google Maps. When the rest of the line is also 110 miles an hour, it will be faster to take the higher speed train than to drive or to fly. If we had a decent *high* speed train going 300 miles an hour, like they have in Europe, Japan and China, you could be in Chicago or Toronto in an hour, or Detroit in 10 minutes.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.

I understand your logic for using private versus public dollars, but why support a concept which is based on a false premise - a future commuter train service. Why build this huge project without knowing for sure if those commuter trains will ever exist? Also, the location argument is debatable - the medical office tower you describe, surrounded completely by public land would be stand alone, with no spill over retail opportunities (kind of like airport retail). Whereas the existing station location would help to revitalize North Main, Broadway/Maiden Lane and the undeveloped DTE site.


Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

Im usually apt to agree, but I believe the current am track station is close enough to the hospital. Ask U employees how far away they park now.

Bob Carlin

Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.

The current train station is the best location to serve our city. Let's keep and improve what we already have. Mayor Hieftje should represent our interests, rather than the few who want light rail and transit oriented development. Last fall, Jane Lumm won the council seat of Stephen Rapundalo, one of the Mayor's chief supporters. She campaigned using the slogan: &quot;Representing our neighborhoods to city hall and not city hall to our neighborhoods.&quot; It's time for the mayor and his inner circle to work for the people who elected them.