89.1 WEMU

Issues Of The Environment: Making An Environmentally Friendly Train Stop For Ann Arbor

Oct 11, 2017

Ann Arbor Train Station
Credit Wikipedia Media Commons / wikipedia.org

Ann Arbor has always championed public transportation, due to its benefits for the environment.  But certain standards still must be met.   In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's Patrick Campion talks to Eli Cooper, Transportation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor, about an environmental assessment report on a proposed train depot for Ann Arbor.


Overview

  • With clearance from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the city of Ann Arbor has released a long-awaited report examining options for a new Amtrak station. The report identifies Fuller Park as the preferred location for a new train station and related facilities, including parking. (quoted)

  • Each of the proposed locations for a train station was evaluated using environmental regulations determined by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The environmental assessment report says that 3.2 acres of Fuller Park would be utilized, necessitating a review and comment period by Ann Arbor's Parks Advisory Commission and City Council approval. Because it would be constructed on city-owned property, the Fuller Park station has the lowest construction cost among the alternatives, the report states, citing an estimated cost of $81 million.

  • The Fuller Park site is also scored as having a lower environmental impact because it creates less impervious surface and is not in a floodplain. The footprint of the new station would replace an area of the park that is currently being used by U of M for parking.

  • Eli Cooper, Transportation Manager for the City of Ann Arbor, said that the report finds the current location of the train station to be an “intermodal transportation facility depot, confounded by commuter traffic, and Fuller is more readily accessible”, particularly for the large number of commuters at the U of M hospital.

  • He also said that the cost estimates in the report are “concept-based estimates, based on orders of magnitude...Things that look expensive likely will be.” Funding scenarios are not fixed figures either, but they are “projections and assumption based on history.”

  • Eli has been the lead of the train station project for nearly a decade, and he encourages citizens to participate in the public comment meetings on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu