U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced a final agreement of $15.8 million for the West Detroit Connection Track project that will ‘eliminate congestion for Detroit-area Amtrak passengers by addressing a bottleneck that comes from serving both freight and passenger rail on the same tracks’.

The Federal Railroad Administration is providing a grant for $7.9 million, which is being matched with another $7.9 million from the State of Michigan.

The project is set to break ground in West Detroit later this year.

“President Obama’s bold vision of investing in rail projects like the West Detroit Connection Track will create jobs and grow our economy over the long-term by moving people and goods more quickly and efficiently than ever before,” said Secretary LaHood.

“In eliminating a longstanding bottleneck, we are creating capacity to handle future rail demand as our population grows, while strengthening the foundation for economic development across the region.”

Currently both freight and intercity passenger trains make a connection through Bay City Junction.

The West Detroit Connection Track project will provide new track to separate freight and passenger train movements. Amtrak’s “Wolverine” service, which provides three daily round trips between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac, will use the new track.

West Detroit Junction is a key link between the Dearborn Station and the Detroit New Center Station. In 2009, this track moved 444,127 passengers on the Wolverine service.