Ann Arbor train station design work could forge ahead without site decision

The location for a long-discussed new Amtrak station in Ann Arbor may still not be determined by Tuesday, Jan. 17, but either way Ann Arbor City Council will review a resolution to approve $2.1 million for preliminary design and engineering work for the station.

Ann Arbor mayor Christopher Taylor says getting the design contract underway is necessary despite not having an approved site because of time constraints tied to grant funding from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

The city has until September of this year to spend about $2 million left from a $2.8 million federal grant it accepted in 2012, or else it loses that money.

"We are continuing to work under an FRA grant in order to move the train station project forward for site assessment and preliminary engineering," Taylor says.

The FRA is also reviewing the site proposals, which include expanding the existing Depot Street station and building a new station on Fuller Road. Earlier this month, Taylor expressed frustrations over delays in getting a site approved by the FRA in a year-in-review letter shared by email and social media.

If architecture firm Neumann/Smith's proposal for design and engineering work is approved as part of council's consent agenda Tuesday, the firm could have to plan around more than one location for the preliminary designs.

"They'll take into account where we are on the site assessment and move forward with all options in mind," Taylor says. "The process has gone on for much longer than anybody is happy with, and this is one of the consequences of that."

Once a site is approved and preliminary designs are finished, Taylor says the city will work with the FRA on next steps for the station, which include securing local matching funds for the project.

Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

Photos by Doug Coombe.
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