US DOT Supporting Streamlined Process for Woodward Avenue Light Rail Project in Detroit

US Secretary of Transportation Ray Hood announced that the Department of Transportation (DOT) will work closely with the city of Detroit, Michigan to complete the environmental review process for the 9.3-mile Woodward Avenue light rail project all at once, rather than one phase at a time.

Woodward Avenue in 1917. The vehicle in the red circle is an Edison electric car. Source: DOT, Shorpy. Click to enlarge.

In February, DOT’s TIGER program—funded by the Recovery Act—awarded the project $25 million. $125 million in funding for the initial 3.4 mile phase is coming from M-1 Rail. The second phase of the project will extend the rail line out to Eight Mile Road.

You know, for any Secretary of Transportation, Woodward Avenue is sacred ground. A century ago, Woodward was the first street paved with concrete anywhere in the world. Its traffic was among the first to be managed by modern stop lights (invented by a Detroit police officer). And Woodward was once the backbone of a model streetcar network and transit system replicated in cities across the United States.

...Detroit’s business community knows that revitalized transit infrastructure can ignite redevelopment. The know the Woodward Avenue line will create jobs, revitalize this celebrated corridor, and generate a ripple effect that helps countless local businesses. It will give people an efficient, sustainable way to get from one place to another. And it will help make Detroit a livable city, where transit brings housing closer to jobs, businesses, and essential services.

—Secretary Hood

Construction should start late next year, according to the Free Press, following the environmental study, with the entire rail line up and running by 2016.

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