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Thu April 19, 2012
Extension a good sign for Detroit light rail plans
Transit advocates in Detroit are happy that a proposal for light rail along Woodward Avenue is still alive.
Federal, state, and city officials had nixed the plan late last year in favor of a Bus Rapid Transit system.
But after pushback from the line’s private backers, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood gave them a deadline to put forth a “feasible” plan.
This week, LaHood extended that deadline about a month. He also told The Detroit News that he's "still optimistic" about the project.
Megan Owens, director of the transit advocacy group Transportation Riders United, says the current proposal is for a shortened line serving Detroit’s downtown—but that’s ok.
“Light rail, or streetcars, can not only provide a great transit option for getting around the downtown-Midtown-New Center areas--but can also be a great way to boost re-development in those communities,” Owens said.
The extension also gives state lawmakers time to move bills to form a regional transit authority in southeast Michigan.
Such an authority is a key condition for federal transit aid to Metro Detroit.