A new eight-mile electric train running along one of Detroit’s main corridors moved closer to reality this week when a group of city officials and engineers released a technical study of the plan.
The Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study group, headed up by the city’s chief financial officer, Norman White, this week concluded 18 months of study and released a recommendation for construction of a $371 million electric car system that would connect the state fairgrounds with downtown and include 13 to 15 stops along the eight-mile strip.
The light-rail system would be built along the middle of Woodward Avenue, a busy corridor that is considered one of the city’s main streets and includes museums, Wayne State University, historic sites, and downtown.
Officials said they are aiming for federal funding to provide up to 60% of the costs of the project, with remaining funding coming from private and foundation sources. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his mother, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick — who is considered key to helping secure federal funding — joined White for a press conference Monday announcing the plan.
“This is very, very important to the future of southeast Michigan,” the mayor said. “I don’t think we’ll have a future if we don’t do this.”
Officials said construction could begin as soon as 2011, that it would generate 12,000 jobs, and the system would serve 11,000 riders daily. Cheeks Kilpatrick said she would soon ask for federal funding for initial engineering studies.
The local transit group is also expected to meet with officials from the Regional Transit Coordinating Council, a group that is working to develop broader transit options in southeast Michigan.