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Audit: MDOT rail program wasted millions

Feb 14, 2015

Credit quicksandala / morgueFile

The state Auditor General says the Michigan Department of Transportation spent millions of dollars on commuter rail cars that aren’t being used.

The audit found the department missed out on applying for federal mass transit funds that could have defrayed the state’s costs, and failed to ensure all railway crossings are safe.

The report also found the state spent almost $10 million refurbishing rail cars that were never put to use.

“The projects got delayed, and then the issue became, OK, you put the money into the overhaul,” said Tim Hoeffner of MDOT. “You need to keep them available. And the question is, how long should we keep them available.” 

Hoeffner says he expects the rail cars will eventually be put to use. 

But Hoeffner says it’s important for the state to stick with supporting commuter rail if it’s going to attract younger workers.

“The next generation, they expect alternatives,” said Hoeffner. “All of these are really about providing alternative transportation and spurring economic development.”