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Editorial: Keep light-rail opportunity on track for city, region

From the Detroit Free Press

A planned light-rail system on Woodward in Detroit could jump-start a regional transit system, providing a foundation metro Detroit could build on after decades of detours and dead ends.

But the rail project can’t move forward without match money from a consortium of private investors who have tentatively agreed to fund it. They include the Kresge Foundation and business leaders such as the Ilitch family, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert and Compuware Chairman Peter Karmanos.

The consortium’s financial commitment has been questioned lately by some observers, who say private investors aren’t happy with project delays caused by federal environmental requirements, or with Detroit’s new role as the lead agency.

So it was reassuring to hear Matthew Cullen, CEO of the M-1 Rail initiative, pour cold water on those reports. In an interview with the Free Press editorial page last week, Cullen said private investors remain fully committed, even though their role in the project has changed from owner-operators to investors with no direct say in governance.

“We embrace it,” he said.

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