Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Detroit streetcar supporters press on

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Backed by the private sector, streetcar supporters in Detroit continue to advance a plan for a line along Woodward Avenue, hoping to begin construction next year.

Contrary to the assumptions of some, local media report federal and Michigan state officials continue to assist the effort, including co-hosting an open house for public input on the proposed project, including a session at Michigan State University's Detroit Center on Tuesday.

The current plan envisions a 3.3-mile initial route running from the city's Downtown to the New Center Arena. Among earlier permutations of the plan was a proposed light rail transit line running nine miles; advocates now are pushing streetcars as the preferred option which, while traveling more slowly, will offer more station stops.

Private investors supporting the effort say much of the funding needed for the $137 million current plan is ready, but they still hope that federal funding will augment the effort. An environmental impact statement was completed for the original plan last year, but a new assessment will have to be completed for the current plan.