A series of meetings this month will try and further the effort to make a commuter rail proposal into reality.

The North-South Commuter Rail project has been a 10-year initiative comprised of several organizations working to create a public transit option in Livingston County. More popularly known as WALLY, for the Washtenaw and Livingston Line, the proposed 27-mile long commuter rail service would run on existing tracks that connect Ann Arbor and Howell, with several stops proposed between the two cities.

Promoters say it is represents a cost-effective alternative to ease traffic congestion along US-23 and to promote economic development and job creation in the region. They note that nearly 75% of Livingston County residents commute out of the county to work each day. A study is ongoing by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to assess the overall feasibility of the North-South Commuter Rail service and part of that process are community input meetings. Two previous sets of such sessions have been held, with a third and final series set this month. The first will be Monday, March 20th at the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce. That will be followed on Tuesday the 21st at the Northfield Township offices and then on Wednesday the 22nd at Eberwhite Elementary School in Ann Arbor. All three meetings will run from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

Organizers say the intent of the meetings will be to provide an update on the status of the project including cost and ridership projections, as well as information on governance and funding strategies. There will be a presentation at the beginning of all three meetings, followed by a discussion to answer questions and obtain public input.

For additional information, contact Michael Benham at AAATA at (734) 794-1851 or mbenham@theride.org. (JK)