Monday, January 09, 2012

Private sector revives Detroit LRT effort

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Though a joint public/private effort to initiate light rail transit in Detroit has faltered, with public money now targeted to launch a 110-mile Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network, state and local elected officials now acknowledge Detroit’s private sector will continue to pursue LRT. 

Detroil M1 LRT artconceptIndeed, private-sector interests, known as M-1 Rail, in essence have insisted on resurrecting their original plan for a short 3.4-mile starter LRT line (as depicted at left). And though the private sector holds to the LRT idea, last week Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing were the ones noting Detroit could still add LRT to the mix as part of a larger BRT plan.

"We see light rail as a part of regional transportation, so light rail is not dead," Mayor Bing said last Friday at a news conference attended by Gov. Snyder and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It's back on the table." The amount of public money or effort to be dedicated to the LRT plan, however, remains unclear.

M-1 Rail, comprised of private investors and philanthropic groups, includes Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, Roger Penske of Penske Corp., Peter Karmanos of Compuware, and the Troy, Mich.-based Kresge Foundation. The group first proposed adding LRT to Woodland Avenue in 2007.

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