A planned light rail route along Woodward Avenue in Detroit that got a second chance last week would be more akin to a streetcar system, according to a report on the Huffington Post Detroit website.
Under the latest proposal, the streetcars would have to vie with traffic instead of running on a dedicated track and would only travel as far north as Detroit's New Center neighborhood, the site reported Monday.
"I would call it a streetcar system," M1 Rail executive Matt Cullen told the Huffington Post. "It's initially going to be a circulator and a connector to our Amtrak station. It won't be a commuter system for people out in the suburbs."
M1 Rail is a consortium of private investors that has backed the Detroit light rail project.
The news could be a disappointment for proponents of regional transit.
Previously, the Detroit light rail line would have run from downtown to Eight Mile Road and supporters hoped that eventually it could be extended even farther north, connecting the city and suburbs. A proposed regional transit center in Troy would have provided connecting routes throughout the area.
But, by the end of 2011, hopes for both the light-rail line and had been dashed.
In December, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Gov. Rick Snyder rejected the light rail plan in favor of a bus rapid transit system that would be less expensive and quicker to implement. And, the Troy City Council voted to that was 12 years in the making and would have been completed using $8.4 million in federal money.
But, last week, light rail supporters – including M1 businessmen Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert, Matt Cullen and Richard Rapson – were able to secure 90 days' grace to prove the Detroit light rail project is financially feasible, according to The Detroit News.
The revised proposal would combine the street car system with a bus rapid transit model, the Huffington Post reports.
On Monday, LaHood told The Detroit News that the government may allocate as much as $25 million more to the revised light rail project in Detroit if the supporters are able to prove their case.
Berkley City Councilman Steve Baker – on the Woodward Avenue Action Association South Oakland Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Task Force – said in December that a $2 million grant for a study of mass transit alternatives along Woodward north of Eight Mile remains in play.
The grant was received from the Federal Transit Authority by a partnership of six Woodward Avenue communities – Berkley, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and Birmingham – and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments.
"A broader regional transit network is essential to ensure more businesses have access to workers, families have access to entertainment and professionals have access to employment opportunities," Baker said. "All of those things are essential to move the region forward."
He urged residents to contact their state and federal representatives and to email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to provide their feedback.
What kind of region do you want? What kind of mass transportation system would you like to have in Metro Detroit? Leave a comment to let us know!