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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Federal Support for Light Rail Along Detroit’s Woodward Avenue

General Foundation News

Local, state, philanthropic and federal officials gathered in Detroit for an announcement that initiated the federal government’s environmental impact statement process.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – An audience of about 150 people gathered on the steps of the Detroit Institute of Arts to hear U.S. Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood announce that the federal government will undertake the environmental impact statement (EIS) required for the Woodward Light Rail project to be accepted into the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Program.

The environmental impact statement is an essential component of a request for matching funds from the federal government for the construction of a light rail system along Detroit’s main transportation artery. Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor David Bing, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson were among those who spoke.

To date, $125 million in private and public funds has been raised to complete the first 3.4 miles. This includes a $35 million investment from The Kresge Foundation. With the federal matching funds, the line can be extended up Woodward Avenue a full 9.3 miles, connecting the city’s downtown with the arts, healthcare, commercial, residential and education districts and job centers in Troy and Birmingham. Total cost for the full project is expected to be $450 to $500 million.

“Projects like this cannot be done just with private dollars,” LaHood said. “This will become a model for the country: public-private partnerships, foundations coming together with the state, the city, and the entire delegation around the idea that if you build it they will come. I believe that.”

“Light rail transit on Woodward Avenue has been a goal of Detroiters for more than 40 years,” said Rip Rapson. “Your commitment to being a full partner in our efforts brings our community a step closer to reinventing, retooling and re-imagining Detroit.”

Read Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson’s full remarks, “Mass Transit Will Play a Key Role in Area Revitalization Efforts,” August 4, 2010.

Read announcement coverage in The Detroit News, “Detroit moves forward with a plan for light-rail project,” August 2, 2010.

Read announcement coverage in Crain’s Detroit Business, “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announces launch of environmental study for Woodward Avenue light rail project,” August 2, 2010.

Read a Detroit News opinion-editorial by The Rev. Edgar Vann, bishop of the Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, “Rail project another way to move Detroit forward,” August 3, 2010.