From the Detroit Free Press:
The federal government today granted $2 million to an effort to study whether Detroit’s fledgling Woodward Light Rail project, now designed to run from downtown to 8 Mile Road, should keep chugging north up to Birmingham.
The money is another strong indicator of federal support for the $550-million plan to bring light rail to metro Detroit. The U.S. Transportation Department has already awarded Detroit $25 million for the initial phases of the project, with Mayor Dave Bing’s office saying construction could start as early as next year.
Michigan’s U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced today that the Transportation Department approved $2 million for a study on extending the rail line north through Ferndale and Royal Oak ending at Maple Road in Birmingham. Supporters say suburban support of the project will be key to its success, and having it go into Oakland County will muster crucial early backing.
The money was granted to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, which is working with leaders from six south Oakland County communities on the study. It will measure need, potential ridership, economic development possibilities and other indicators that the federal government uses to determine which transportation projects get funding.
Woodward Light Rail is a proposed nine-mile, 19-stop line from downtown to near the State Fairgrounds funded by wealthy private investors and community groups, the city and federal governments. It’s envisioned as a way to revitalize the city and serve as the first part of a regional network of light rail, commuter rail and rapid-transit buses across the city and suburbs