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MDOT plans new safety measures at Amtrak "hotspots"

Railroad tracks sit in front of the brick Kalamazoo Train Station. The dark brown shingled roof sits below a grey sky, and is stained in various places.
Sehvilla Mann
Amtrak serves the Kalamazoo Transit Center in downtown Kalamazoo. MDOT's Michael Frezzell says the tracks in the next block west are one hotspot.

Michigan's transportation department plans to add fencing around parts of one Amtrak line, including where it passes through two Southwest Michigan cities.

Since 2020, there have been nine collisions and 27 near-misses on the Amtrak railroad between Kalamazoo and Dearborn.

In response, the Michigan Department of Transportation plans to install fencing in hotspot areas, including in Kalamazoo and Albion.

MDOT spokesperson Michael Frezell said hotspots can develop anywhere.

“When people are on the track, that happens in rural areas, it happens in small cities, it happens in large cities, it doesn't really matter what the size is,” Frezell said.

MDOT may also add fencing along the Amtrak line in Galesburg in a future phase of the project.

Separately, Kalamazoo County’s government wants to resolve an impasse with Amtrak over a crossing in Galesburg for the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.

David Rachowicz is the director of the Kalamazoo County Parks Department.

“It's not resolved at this point, but there's been some good conversations between the parties as far as hopefully trying to find the solution that works for all,” Rachowicz said.

MDOT has held open houses in both Albion and Kalamazoo to get public feedback.

It’ll hold a final open house, focused on the Ann Arbor portion of the project, Oct. 3.

Frezell said residents from other areas may attend and ask questions.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.