Saturday, December 6, 2008


Originally Posted 5/29/08
Updated 9/2/08
Updated 9/12/08
Updated 12/6/08

"Key components of a plan to build a light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit were approved without opposition by the state Senate on Thursday, and lawmakers said they plan to complete the multibill package when they resume session next week.

Bills approved by the Senate on Thursday would:

• Allow the organization of a nonprofit corporation to build and operate the railway system.

• Permit the railway to obtain land, sell bonds and mortgage its property to provide security for the bonds.

• Let the railway store and use electrical power.

• Authorize the Michigan Department of Transportation to establish a transit development finance zone that would be empowered to collect incremental property tax revenue.

• Require the state transportation department to supplement the railway's fare revenues with up to $8 million annually, beginning with the 2010-11 budget year."

Source: (Detroit News)

State congress is trying to work together with regional leaders who are overseeing the three-county mass transit plan. Multiple plans have floated around. A private plan which is partly funded by private money and has 12 stops along Woodward from Downtown to the New Center Area has been juxtaposed with a public plan which would run along Woodward from Downtown to the city limits at 8 mile.

It appears that the former has won out between the two, at least for now. For over two years, John Hertel has been studying all options to decide what is the most feasible plan. It looks like the privately funded plan will win out with the caveat that its construction would allow for additions. I believe that at some point, light rail will extend all the way to Pontiac along Woodward and a separate rail line extending from Ann Arbor to the Metro Airport, and then to Downtown Detroit, will connect to the currently proposed light rail line.

This would be a great start...

"The four regional leaders overseeing a three-county mass transit plan are scheduled to hear a finalized presentation and potentially vote on the proposed system at 3 p.m. Monday at the Miller Canfield offices in downtown Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr., Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County Board Chairman William Crouchman — collectively known as the “Big 4” — will hear an outline from transit czar John Hertel on 26 months of assembling a three-county plan to deploy a light-rail and bus system."

Source: (Crain's Detroit)

Detroit Army

9/12/08 Update

Excitement, funds build for light rail in Detroit

John Gallagher of the Detroit Free Press reports that the privately funded light rail project for the city of Detroit is nearing its goal of raising $100 million dollars. Obstacles remain however including passing a bill in the state legislature for approval of the system, creating a non profit entity to run the system, and collaboration with a concurrent study by DTOGS regarding a publicly funded light rail project that would run along Woodward as well.

"The project, now known as the Regional Area Initial Link, or TRAIL, has gotten commitments for about 75% of its goal of raising $90 million to $100 million, a person familiar with the details of the effort said.

In a key fund-raising innovation, leaders of the effort are selling naming rights for up to 13 planned stations along the 3.4-mile route up Woodward Avenue. The rights go for $3 million for each pair of north-south stations. So far, 10 purchasers have committed to buying rights.

Having 10 commitments for station naming rights means the project has raised $30 million in that way. Selling rights to the other three stations would push the total from that money source to $39 million.

In addition, the Troy-based Kresge Foundation, which already has donated $50 million to create the Detroit RiverWalk, tentatively has agreed to provide between $10 million and $50 million to back the new transit system, foundation president Rip Rapson said this week. The exact figure will depend on the success of other fund-raising, but is expected to be close to the $30-million to $40-million range.

But if the project gets built, it could substantially boost economic development in the city's center. A study to be released Monday by the nonprofit Transportation Riders United group is expected to say that billions of dollars in new investment would follow creation of a light-rail line. The report, titled "The Economic Case for Light Rail in Detroit," studied such systems in several other cities.

A rail system along Woodward also would give a major boost to an effort to build a rail line from Ann Arbor to New Center. That line, planned by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and to be paid for largely with federal money, would feed passengers to and from the TRAIL line, whose existence could help justify the expense of the Ann Arbor-Detroit route."
(John Gallagher/Detroit Free Press)

To see the entire article, click here

All this light rail talk is extremely exciting, but is it just me or doesn't any light rail need to extend much farther than just to new center? I thought the whole idea was that the line was going to extend to out to 8 mile, although maybe that was the other non private DTOGS plan. Personally I think they should have some sort of light rail extending all the way to Birmingham at least. Hopefully, however light rail is built along Woodward, it will have a structure that allows for expansion.

On another note, what of that non private DTOGS light rail plan? I'm getting a little concerned that these two plans are going to end up butting heads and the whole dream of light rail is going to fizzle before our eyes. I know that each plan has significant differences including where the stops will be on Woodward and, from what I can tell, how far down Woodward the rail will be extended. We're starting to really see some progress here. The two plans should start to work together immediately to avoid a much larger mess down the road.

I realize Detroit has not had real mass transit since 1956, but the newest incarnation of light rail in Detroit seems to be moving along quite quickly. More details emerge monthly and I can't help but get excited about it. Maybe this national economy and state recession really has gotten people to change their attitudes and inspired them to move forward with the type of 21st century reform that this state needs. We shall see, but at least with regards to light rail, I like how things are progressing.

9/2/08 Update

Crain's has recently reported a clearer picture on some of the names that are behind the alleged privately supported light rail system in the works for Detroit. Some of the names we were already aware of including Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert, but other big names have emerged such as Mike Illitch, Peter Karmanos Jr., and the Kresge Foundation with backing from Governor Jennifer Granholm.

It will be interesting to see what happens between the publicly funded plan being studied by
the Detroit Transit Options for Growth, a proposal by the Detroit Department of Transportation, and this privately funded plan. After mass transit being almost non existent for the past 60 years (sorry SMART bus and DDOT), let's hope we don't end up with two competing light rail plans with stubborn supporters who refuse to compromise. Let's hope two plans are even better than one, and within the next 10 years light rail is a reality.

The Crain's article states,

"The slow unraveling of Detroit's worst-kept secret continued last week with the unveiling of three more key players in the closely guarded private-sector effort to construct a $103 million light-rail loop on Woodward Avenue.

Peter Karmanos Jr., founder of Detroit-based software maker Compuware Corp., and Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings and co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza, are among a cadre of influential backers that have committed undisclosed sums to construction of the 3.4-mile mass-transit project, a source familiar with the project told Crain's on the condition of anonymity.

A third backer, Troy-based Kresge Foundation President and CEO Rip Rapson, recently stated his organization's interest in the project, called the Woodward Transit Catalyst Project, and the source confirmed that Rapson has been part of confidential meetings of the plan's financial and political backers.

They join Quicken Loans Inc. founder Dan Gilbert, who plans to move his company's headquarters from Livonia to Detroit in the next couple of years, and Penske Corp. founder Roger Penske as the known private figures involved in the project, a key element in economic revitalization efforts for the city and region.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is known to back the plan, and State Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon have voiced support. Legislation eventually will be required to move the project forward, since Woodward is a state highway."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

5/29/08 Original Post

In a potentially huge development in the quest to secure mass transit for Detroit metro, Crain's Detroit reported the following...

"MACKINAC ISLAND - Sen. Majority Leader Mike Bishop and House Speaker Andy Dillon each said during a panel discussion Thursday they will back a plan by billionaires Dan Gilbert and Roger Penske to construct a privately funded $103 million light rail loop on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue.It was the first public acknowledgement of Gilbert and Penske’s involvement in the project, which was first reported on by Crain’s in February. Bishop said he would support the proposal “100 percent” and he and Dillon said they’ve met with Gilbert, owner of Livonia-based Quicken Loans/Rock Financial who is moving his 4,000-person business downtown, and Penske to discuss the plan."
(Bill Shea/Crain's Detroit)

More to follow soon...hopefully.

Full Article Can Be Found At Legislators, Gilbert, Penske will back light rail on Woodward
Detroit Army


Anonymous said...

Once all the news with the Mayor gets settled that's probably the catalyst.. Plus oil will go down, and GM/Ford/Housing will come back and bring new business with it. Might not be that far off.

WilliamX said...

People should stop moaning and groaning about the many corrupted politicians. Regardless what level
of Government their are serving,
and personally I hate to see Woodward, Grand River, Fort Street,
and ruin by building light rail.

What is it for the Citizens? Not a
damn thing, due to the fact that the money would be spent on keep the rail system in operation, and
what the system do not receive the
politicans will get it.

Why don't these private investors
don't buy up the entire Metro area?
Detroit is about to become a all
white city in the near future, and
the poor Blacks/Whites/Others won't
have a chance.

Look at the rebuilding of Southwest
Detroit by the bridge to Canada.
Also the plan includes the City of
Highland Park main street Woodward
Ave, but when it comes to selling
Highland Park out..good by light railing, and I will organize a
boycott against the railing coming
through Highland Park.

However, It can come to Highland
Park by using the un-used rail tracks that's on the City's eastside.

Feed the hungry, Provide housing
for the homeless. Clean-up the
rundown neighborhoods here in Highland Park.

Is the rail system designed to draw Whites into the City of Highland Park?

mykelcox said...

This last comment is why the city is in RUINS!!!! Its not a race war and you that think it is need to stop, like right now!!! This city need diversity and that means ALL races. Not just Blacks, not just whites, but also Asians and hispanics ect.. Light rail IS good for the common person. Its funtion is primarily for to get from point A to point B and thats what causes the businesses to spring up around it, duh. I can see how you may not want to giveup the pot holes and blight along Woodward and other corridors by putting in this light rail, so if you do boycott it then thats fine cause there are quite a few people that will take your place on it. Its much cheaper than owning a car and pay for gas, insurance, car payments/upkeep if you get approved at all to even get a car in the first place. It will cut down on the cars on the street and the air pollution will be cut as well. When was the last time you took a breath of fresh air? So before you talk about something you have obviously no idea what your talking about you might want to do a little research.