Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Geography

First Advisor

Dr. C. Scott Smith

Second Advisor

Dr. Benjamin Ofori-Amoah

Third Advisor

Dr. David Lemberg

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Incremental speed increases have been a main focus of Amtrak in recent years. Now operating at 110 mph within three different service lines in the United States, Amtrak is making progress toward achieving maximum speeds within rail corridors. This study focuses on Amtrak’s Wolverine service line which operates daily passenger rail service between Chicago, Illinois and Detroit/Pontiac, Michigan. Specifically, this study will look at six cities connected by this service that are east of Chicago. The six cities examined in this research are Hammond, Indiana, Michigan City, Indiana, New Buffalo, Michigan, Niles, Michigan, Dowagiac, Michigan, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. This segment of the rail corridor is currently the only area in which trains travel at speeds of up to 110 mph. This study focuses on recent speed increases within this segment of the Chicago-Detroit corridor and the effects of these speed increases on local planning. Interview data from local planning officials combined with a quantitative analysis of transit-oriented development characteristics from individual cities are used to understand the differing variations of responses and perceptions to the developing high-speed corridor. Results show significant differences between certain groups of cities and reveal specific reasons as to the nature of the cities’ differing planning responses.

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