Commuter rail plans in southeast Michigan are drawing fire from state legislators and other officials. The criticism stems from millions of dollars being spent on unused rail cars. Those rail cars await completion of projects between Ann Arbor and Detroit and between Ann Arbor and Howell. The Detroit Free Press, reporting on what it describes as “a $12-million debacle”, says the costs are to lease and refurbish 23 used rail cars MDOT acquired from a Chicago rail system.
Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle says MDOT is considering various options, including cancellation of the contract to lease the cars. Steudle also said last week that it’s easy to criticize the plan in hindsight. The plan was given the green light in 2010 by Governor Jennifer Granholm and the legislature.
Current State speaks with Carmine Polombo, deputy executive director of SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. He’s been at work on the two projects for which the rail cars were originally purchased.