Yesterday, I went back to Detroit with Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff to declare, just as emphatically, that "The city of Detroit is on the move!"
Thanks to a coalition of foundations, activists, planners, and local leaders, one demonstration of Detroit's forward progress is the proposed light-rail transit line on Woodward Avenue.
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.
Today, the proposed Woodward Avenue light-rail line adds another page to the storied tradition of Motor City innovation. Now, I'm not just talking about the light-rail line itself, and I'm not just talking about the development of livable communities that new transit will foster.
I'm talking about the forward-thinking public-private partnership that is making the Woodward Avenue line possible.
The City of Detroit will take the lead on the project. But, funding for the initial 3.4 mile phase is coming from M-1 Rail, a group of private investors who saw the value of this project early on and raised $125 million for a line extending from Hart Plaza to New Center. And DOT's TIGER program--funded by the Recovery Act--also awarded the project $25 million in February.
The second phase of the project will extend the rail line out to Eight Mile Road.
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.
To show our support for this combined project, Administrator Rogoff and I announced that DOT will work closely with Detroit to complete the environmental review process for this crucial 9.3-mile project all at once, rather than one phase at a time.
This kind of cooperation doesn't just happen; it takes patience and an understanding of the project’s real value. So I want to thank everyone who came together to help this state-local-federal-private partnership meet its first objectives: Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, US Senator Debbie Stabenow, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, US Representative Carolyn Cheeks-Kirkpatrick, Rip Rapson, and Roger Penske.