MDOT Director: 30 Days To Decide Rail Contract

(WLNS) – Michigan’s Department of Transportation will be spending the next month to try and figure out their contract with a rail company in Owosso.

The department signed that contract back in 2010, but as Nick Perreault explains the department has their own concerns about the rail cars not moving much.

They’re currently sitting here alongside the snow unlike other rail cars from the Great lakes Central Railroad in Owosso.

“They’ve haven’t been used for what they were overhauled for and that was for commuter services between Ann Arbor and Detroit and Howell and Ann Arbor,” said Tim Hoeffner MDOT Director of Rail.

Michigan’s Director of Rail Tim Hoeffner says the state paid roughly eight million dollars to restore these 23 rail cars in 2010.

Since then they’ve been paying about a million dollars a year to Great Lakes Central Railroad, but they’re not running as scheduled due to delays in the project.

“The change of the federal oversight, which agency was doing it and the requirements changed, had that not happened, I think, we’d be looking at operations as originally planned in 14-15′,” said MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

Instead transportation Director Kirk Steudle says they’ll be considering sub-leasing the cars or ending the contract entirely.

“If we can keep control of the cars that’s best, but if in the end we can’t find enough use for them, then termination is certainly on the table,” Steudle said.

Talking to Chris Bagwell from Great Lakes Central Railroad he says its money well spent for multiple reasons.

“The biggest part of this whole project was the ability to take Michigan money and put it right back her into a Michigan business. With that Michigan money two-thirds of it were spent here in our state and it also allowed us to employ 26 displaced workers that are still with us,” said General Manager Chris Bagwell

Bagwell says some of these were used this winter in motion throughout Shiawassee county by the Steam Railroad Institute and ADA groups. The gm adds he remains positive about what lies ahead.

“Absolutely we do hope to continue negotiations to with Michigan Department of Transportation.”

Michigan’s Director of Rail did say they’ve had support from both surrounding communities and the private sector, including “M1-Rail” which has a similar system between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The contract decision is expected in 30 days.

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