The State Administrative Board, which approves contracts for state agencies, last week approved the addition of $100,694 and one year to a deal between the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments to develop a demonstration of a commuter rail line linking Detroit and Ann Arbor.

The money is for infrastructure improvements and passenger rail equipment, such as train cars.The state money is in addition to $450,000 in Federal Highway Administration funds earmarked for the demonstration project.

The deal was extended to February 2010.

SEMCOG, the regional planning agency for metro Detroit through which federal transit project money flows, has been studying for some time the feasibility and cost of a high-speed passenger railroad route connecting the two cities.

It would link into a proposed Woodward Avenue commuter line, and a wider regional system in the future.The goal is to have the 48-mile Ann Arbor-Detroit route running by 2010.

SEMCOG is in negotiations with three railroads that own the tracks, is studying funding options for the route and is considering what cars would be used.Amtrak would be contracted to operate the line.


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