Detroit moves one phase closer to a light rail system for southeast Michigan.
Feds OK study of 9.3-mile Woodward light rail line
BY SUZETTE HACKNEY
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
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The federal government today committed to undertake an environmental impact study of an extended light rail line in Detroit and Highland Park -- an announcement that Mayor Dave Bing called "a major milestone in making light rail a reality in Detroit."
A 9.3-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue will undergo the study, according to today's announcement by Bing.
Joining him at the news conference held at the Detroit Institute of Arts were U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick; and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Bing said a light rail system on Detroitwould offer convenient and modern transportation with a tangible economic spinoff.
Earlier this year, the city was awarded a $25-million grant to begin constructing a three-mile Woodward corridor line. The extension would run from Woodward to Eight Mile, and would allow continuous construction instead of a segment at a time.
"Today we're building on the storied tradition of Motor City innovation," said LaHood, who explained that Woodward Avenue was the first street in the nation to be paved with concrete.
The private group M-1 Rail, funded by wealthy Detroiters and charitable groups, has raised about $125 million to build a segment of rail between downtown and the New Center area, while Detroit would have to extend the line north, largely through federal funding. The cost of the 9.3-mile line is estimated around $425 million.
"You get things done when you work together, and this is an example of that," Stabenow said.
Officials said the environmental impact study should be completed within a year, and construction could begin in late 2011.