Monday, April 13, 2009

Kresge Foundation commits funds to Detroit LRT project

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Of nearly $73 million in grants awarded by the Kresge Foundation for the year’s first quarter, half of it, $35 million, was identified for developing light rail transit in the foundation’s hometown of Detroit. The amount is roughly 29% of the $120 million required for constructing M-1 RAIL, planned to run along Woodward Avenue from the Detroit River to the New Center area, with 13 station stops.

In a statement, the foundation said its “over-arching purpose of Kresge's community development work in its hometown is strengthening the City of Detroit's economic, social, and cultural fabric.”

"There is no more important investment this region can make in its future health and vitality than a regional mass transit system," said Rip Rapson, president of the Kresge Foundation. "The Woodward line will signal metropolitan Detroit's willingness to jump-start our region's aspiration to create such a system. It will connect inner-city residents with job opportunities. It will give rise to more intensive, sensible land use, tying neighborhood residents to new community development opportunities. It will draw together a variety of private, philanthropic, public, and nonprofit activities now in place to promote the retention and attraction of talent in the heart of the city."

The foundation’s funding, to be made over four years, will be granted as project benchmarks are met. "We have every expectation that these benchmarks will be met in a timely way, leading to the beginning of construction this year and the line's completion in late 2010,"  Rapson said.

Detroit’s current LRT project is a marriage of two separate proposals that were merged through a public-private partnership to expedite construction and implementation.