The Michigan Senate last week approved a package of bills paving the way for a $103 million light-rail transit line on one of Detroit’s main thoroughfares.

Construction of the 3.4-mile rail line would be financed through private donations, while the legislation would create a nonprofit corporation that could sell bonds to obtain land and operate the system.

Legislation would also allow the Michigan Department of Transportation to set up special transit development tax zones along the route to generate tax revenue, and would establish an annual state appropriation of around $8 million to fund the system.

The light-rail line is a key part of a three-county mass transit plan. The line would link up with a planned commuter line running between Ann Arbor and Detroit, as well as new bus lines. Meanwhile, the Detroit Department of Transportation is developing a $371 million plan for an eight-mile light-rail loop that would also link up with the privately funded line.

The privately funded line is being backed by a number of local businessmen, including billionaires Dan Gilbert and Roger Penske, and would include 12 stops and serve theaters, stadiums, museums, and hospitals.

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