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Planning finalized for Detroit’s light rail system

Six handicap-accessible cars will cover 3.3 miles

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Posted: Monday, February 18, 2013 12:00 am | Updated: 12:13 pm, Fri Apr 5, 2013.

Detroit will soon have a light rail system at an estimated cost of $140 million.

The M-1 rail system will run along Woodward Avenue with 11 stops, and a 12th stop pending federal approval starting from the downtown Business District on Congress and ending on Grand Boulevard near the Amtrak train station. Stops include stations near Campus Martius and Comerica Park. The system will include six cars and will run from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

According to CBS Detroit, $100 million has been raised for the project by “a coalition of private-sector philanthropic and business leaders” from Detroit. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood also visited Detroit Jan. 18, bringing another $25 million for the project provided by the federal government.

The rest of the money, according to CBS Detroit, will come from state and local funds. The rail cars will be handicap accessible with heating and cooling and will seat 60 passengers. With standing room, each car will be able to transport 149 passengers. According to the M-1 rail website, the cars will stop at each station every seven to eight minutes in peak hours and every 12 to 13 minutes in non-peak hours.

According to The Detroit News, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow said the project will bring more than 2,000 jobs to the city.

Funds have also been allocated to the bus transit system in Detroit. Original plans for the system began in 2010. The Detroit News states the original M-1 rail line plans stretched all the way to 8 Mile Road and totaled 9.3 miles. Lahood revised the $25 million grant to add funds for the bus transit system, prompting the M-1 rail plans to scale the line back to 3.3 miles and an estimated $140 million budget.

According to Huffpost Detroit, The M-1 Rail organization is in negotiations with the Federal Transportation Administration to have environmental assessments. The organization plans to break ground on the project later this year with hopes of completing the project by 2015.

Ashley, a 22-year-old Wayne State media arts and studies student, believes the M-1 rail system is a good idea but doesn’t think the city can handle it financially. “Detroit is still in financial crisis, I just don’t think it’s feasible right now,” she said. “However, it would be a good thing for the city and maybe it could be expanded to the surrounding areas, so Detroit can be connected to everyone.”

Robin Boyle, chair of the WSU Department of Urban Planning and Studies, thinks the rail system will provide many good things for the city. “I think it will affect the city of Detroit as a whole by further strengthening the Midtown to downtown area,” he said. “According to well-respected research, development of this sort will have an impact on residential volumes and commercial volumes.”

The M-1 Rail organization will host a public hearing about the project Feb. 28 at the Detroit Library Main Branch from 4 p.m.-7 p.m. with a formal presentation at 5 p.m

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