By LAURA CLARK, News Editor
Detroit is anxiously anticipating a visit from U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood this Friday, where he is expected to announce that the city will receive around $25 million to fund its light-rail streetcar project.
The M-1 Woodward Avenue light-rail streetcar plan is a $500 million project stretching 9.3 miles up Woodward to Eight Mile road. The U.S. Transportation Department awarded the $25 million grant in February 2010, but the actual funding is coming three years later. Detroit has been unable to move forward with the project after the grant was reallocated at the end of 2011 and the plans were put on hold. Federal funding for the project was confirmed only when final approval was won for the regional transit authority.
This new development would not only bring much needed funding to Detroit, but also help boost Midtown development, including bringing employment to 42 people.
Although the specific amount of federal funding was not confirmed by federal aides, they did indeed confirm Secretary LaHood’s trip to Detroit and the announcement he would be making about the funding. A visit to Detroit by LaHood is also scheduled for Monday to speak at the North American International Auto Show.
The new M-1 system plans include 11 stops and six streetcars over a span of 3.3 miles from Downtown to Midtown. The M-Q project plans to run 117 trips each way from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. on weekdays. Each streetcar would travel north from Congress to Grand Boulevard, take 16 minutes for a one-way trip, and run every 7.5 minutes.
Donors for the M-1 project include the Kresge Foundation, General Motor Co’s Chevrolet unit and Chrysler Group LLC, the Detroit Development Authority, and Wayne County.