If a study essential for a new train station in Ann Arbor is to move forward, the city will need to identify several hundred thousand dollars in required local matching funds – for up to $2,806,400 in federal grant money. The Ann Arbor city council is set to consider allocating more funds at its Oct. 15 meeting, in a resolution that also includes a commitment to ask for voter approval before building the station.
The city now needs to provide around $550,000 in new matching funds in order to receive the federal money to complete the work. The federal grant funds are still available – and according to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the intent is to work with the city of Ann Arbor to see the project through to completion.
The Ann Arbor city council had voted 9-2 to accept the federal money – through the FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program – at its June 4, 2012 meeting. That acceptance was based on the understanding that around $701,600 in already-expended city funds could count toward a required 20% match.
But now the FRA has informed the city that none of its previously incurred expenses are eligible to count toward the match on the grant, which would fund completion of a preliminary engineering and environmental assessment for a new rail station in Ann Arbor.
Responding to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje indicated that a resolution will appear on the city council’s Oct. 15 meeting agenda that addresses the determination made by the FRA. The resolution reflects both a financial and a political strategy. The financial strategy is to allocate money from the city’s general fund budget. The political strategy includes a commitment in the resolution to submit the construction of a new rail station to a popular vote. The political component of the strategy is related to the fact that the proposed Fuller Road location for the new rail station is city parkland. [Full Story]