Light Rail In Detroit Not Dead As Bing, Snyder Back Private Plan For Shorter Line
Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder met with Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Friday to discuss plans to revive a proposed light rail system in Detroit.
Bing and Snyder had announced in December that plans for an eight mile stretch of light rail up Woodward Avenue would be canceled in favor of building a larger rapid bus network for the region. LaHood had expressed concern that Detroit would not be able to pay for the $528 million rail project, nor properly fund the rail line over the long term.
At the time, the backers of the proposed M1 light rail system, and other members of the business community, said they would push forward with their plans to build a shorter line.
They will now have 90 days to put together a proposal that shows they've planned for construction and operating costs for a 3.4 mile line that would be integrated into a regional transit system. Private investors have committed $80 million so far, and hope to reach $100 million.
LaHood and previously promised $25 million in federal funding to the project, but whether that money will come through appears dependent on how much the private investors can raise. There had been some talk of that TIGER grant money going to the proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) system instead.
Bing said new agreements would allow light rail to be part of the proposed regional transit system.
"Light rail is not dead," Bing said. "It's back on the table, but it's part of the BRT system."
Snyder agreed that the M1 plan would fit into a regional system.
"This partnership's going to move forward in parallel process," he said, adding officials would continue work on the proposed bus system.