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Plans derail for New Buffalo commuter train hub

NEW BUFFALO, Mich. - The city of new buffalo won’t be the Michigan’s commuter train hub, at least not yet.

City leaders found out Friday morning they lost the federal TIGER Grant that would lay the foundation for commuter trains from Detroit and Grand Rapids to stop in downtown New Buffalo.

 “Obviously anything that brings people into the area would help us businesswise,” said R.J.  Walpole, owner of ‘I Love Toys and Trains’ a store that sells model trains.

“The more train services you have, the more people you have to stop by town,” said New Buffalo Assistant City Manager Ryan Fellows.

It was a close call for the $70 million dollar proposal; New Buffalo’s hub came in the top %10 of applications.

“If you go on a train from Chicago to anywhere in Michigan you need to go to New Buffalo first,” said Fellows.

Both the Pier Marquette Line from Grand Rapids to Chicago and the Wolverine Line from Detroit to Chicago intersect in New Buffalo Township.  The city has access on the Wolverine Line only and the proposal would have connected the two lines. 

Fellows said it would have allowed for train service between Grand Rapids and Detroit without passing through Chicago or using buses, and would provide high speed service to Pier Marquette riders between New Buffalo and Chicago.

The grant application estimated 3000 more people would have stopped in New Buffalo each year with a hub.

 “We have a lot of people that come to just watch trains so if we had a train hub here maybe people would come to watch and stop in our store,” said Walpole.

New Buffalo plans to apply for another TIGER Grant when federal funds again become available.

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