The Light Rail Proposal is Chugging Along

Plans for a light rail system in Detroit progressed this week when a regional planning group green-lighted the proposed development.

Officials with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments approved a Detroit Department of Transportation plan to construct and operate light rail service on Woodward Avenue between downtown and Eight Mile.

"This is an important step toward the establishment of a reliable rail transportation system that will assist Detroiters in getting to and from their destinations," Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick said in a statement. "This approval of DDOT's rail project will also multiply economical opportunities for business growth."

SEMCOG representatives could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

According to SEMCOG, the proposed line is expected to be the first in a regional plan that includes rapid transit in three counties and would "serve as a distributor and feeder" to an Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail line the council is studying.

"I am pleased that DDOT is moving in the right direction on the Woodward Avenue Light Rail Transit (LRT) initiative by putting the customer first, as gas prices continue to soar," said Lovevett Williams, interim director of DDOT, in a statement. "

The Woodward line would follow an eight-mile stretch from the Michigan State Fairgrounds near Eight Mile to downtown Detroit, feature stops at 13 to 15 stations and carry about 22,200 daily riders, SEMCOG said.

Building costs are estimated at $371 million. Federal funds are expected to cover more than half the project's cost.

An environmental impact statement is being drafted, and pending final designs and application to a Federal Transit Administration program, construction is not expected to begin until 2011, according to SEMCOG.

"The Woodward Avenue LRT project will stimulate community and economic development in southeast Michigan," U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick said in a statement.

The Detroit News


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