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Group seeks Traverse City-Williamsburg rail route

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 10, 2014 at 5:25 pm •  Published: August 10, 2014

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — It's time to consider providing passenger rail service between Traverse City and the nearby community of Williamsburg as a start toward reviving train travel in Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula, a nonprofit advocacy group says.

The Michigan Land Use Institute said that using the 11-mile stretch of rail could boost tourism and development in the area.

"It's a low-cost way to add capacity to our existing transportation network while supporting development along the track at the same time," said James Bruckbauer, a transportation policy specialist with the institute and author of the report.

Such a passenger rail line could be a first step toward restoring Traverse City's passenger rail connection to the rest of the state, Bruckbauer said.

It would cost much less to upgrade the track than to reconstruct a 1.5-mile section of U.S. 31, the highway linking Traverse City and Williamsburg, according to the report.

"While year-round daily commuter trains might be too expensive for now, a seasonal tourist-shuttle could be a low-cost, achievable first step," the institute said in a statement. "The estimated cost to improve the tracks — less than $2 million — is modest when compared to the $9 million cost to reconstruct just 1.5 miles of U.S. 31," the institute said.

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