DETROIT, Jan. 18, 2013 - The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and M-1 RAIL organizers announced today that the 3.3-mile light rail circulator project along Woodward in the city’s urban core will receive $25 million in federal funding. The grant is a critical piece of funding needed to move the project forward.
“I applaud Michigan’s leaders for coming together to support a regional vision for public transportation that will improve access to jobs, education, medical care and other destinations for residents in the Detroit metro area,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The Obama Administration is committed to the creation of a modern transportation system that will create jobs Detroit needs right now, while spurring new economic development to help this region grow stronger in the years to come.”
M-1 RAIL has worked diligently to achieve every standard set by the U.S. DOT and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) since submitting a business plan last spring. In August 2012, the FTA and M-1 RAIL began work on an environmental assessment of the project, which will be completed by April 2013. Project organizers are finalizing engineering plans and will issue Requests for Information early this year. Organizers expect to break ground in later in 2013, with the goal to begin operations in late 2015.
“The support from federal, state and local governments for this vision, combined with unprecedented commitments from our leading corporate and philanthropic communities, has been tremendous. We thank all of those involved in working to make M-1 RAIL a reality,” said Roger Penske, chairman of M-1 RAIL. “M-1 RAIL is a catalyst for investment, economic development and urban revitalization. The light rail circulator will strengthen the backbone of the Detroit region, which will spur significant, additional investment within Detroit and our entire community.”
The federal grant will be combined with more than $100 million in donations from philanthropic foundations and many leading regional corporations and institutions to fund the construction, maintenance and operation of the rail line. The project will eventually be gifted to an operating entity, such as a regional transit authority, which recently received approval in the Michigan legislature.
“This project, and the eventual implementation of the regional transit authority (RTA), will give Michigan the integrated transit system vital to continued economic growth throughout the city, region and the state,” said Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. “Providing necessary and viable transportation options is key to the prosperity of our communities. Working together with M-1 RAIL organizers and other transit authorities, I know that we can create a coordinated transit community that best serves Michigan residents.”
The light rail circulator will help reinvigorate the city, organizers say, creating a region where people want to live and businesses want to invest. M-1 RAIL will help attract and retain jobs, residences and employers; reduce traffic congestion; enable compact development; and encourage overall development in the area. As of the end of 2012, the project has already spurred the development of new real estate projects; contributed to decisions by two hospitals to expand investments in the city; given rise to Midtown and downtown housing incentives; served as the motivation for commercial property purchases in the urban core; and generated some $100 million of grant and loan commitments by financial institutions and foundations, organizers say.
“The investment from our private community here in Detroit is unmatched. We have many business and philanthropic leaders committed to making our city, and our region, thrive,” said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing. “M-1 RAIL will create a transportation system that allows people to move more easily within our city, increasing the vibrancy and vitality of Detroit. This is a great addition to our city and I look forward to the positive impact I know it will have on our region.”
The 3.3-mile light rail circulator will have 11 stations on Woodward running from downtown to New Center. In addition, M-1 RAIL will be expandable to accommodate future needs and will operate in harmony with other transit options, including DDOT, SMART, Amtrak and the people mover, as well as any future transit initiatives, such as the proposed bus rapid transit system.
Donors to the M-1 RAIL project include: Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chevrolet, Chrysler Group LLC, Detroit Downtown Development Authority, Compuware Corp., Detroit Medical Center, Ford Foundation, Henry Ford Health System, Hudson Webber Foundation, Ilitch Holdings Inc., Penske Corp., Quicken Loans, The Kresge Foundation, Wayne County, Wayne State University, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Eisbrenner Public Relations in Royal Oak, Mich., issued the above press release. They can be contacted at www.eisbrenner.com.