m-1 rail

Transportation
9:55 am
Mon September 15, 2014

Ceremony planned this morning for the M-1 rail project

Preparing track for the M-1 rail project in Detroit.
M-1 Rail Facebook

Dignitaries including Michigan Gov. Snyder, Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representatives John Dingell and John Conyers, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and business leaders Roger Penske and Dan Gilbert were on hand for a "track signing" ceremony this morning in Detroit.

The M-1 rail project is streetcar line planned for a 3.3. mile stretch along Woodward Ave. in Detroit. The project has received more than $35 million in federal funds, but the majority of its financing comes from private backers.

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Transportation
3:38 pm
Wed June 18, 2014

Light rail project in Detroit wants more federal funds, or faces changes

A visual rendering of the proposed M-1 Rail Line through Detroit.
Credit m-1rail.com

Leaders of a light passenger rail line project being constructed in Detroit are looking for another $12 million from the federal government. If they don’t get it, the project may have to be scaled back or redesigned, or they may have to spend money that’s set aside for operating the line once it’s up and running.

The Detroit News uncovered the plea for more federal funds in a letter from a handful of Michigan congressmen and Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin.

Officials from Levin and Stabenow's offices forwarded Michigan Radio a copy of the letter, but declined requests for comment.

In it, elected leaders say without the $12 million grant "this important project will be delayed indefinitely, and we fear the resulting costs could make the project unaffordable."

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Stateside
5:34 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

What's happening with public transportation in Southeast Michigan?

m-1rail.com

Anyone who has spent time in Chicago, New York or Washington knows the value of a good public transportation system – something that has been woefully lacking in southeast Michigan.

But there are hopeful signs: the M-1 rail along Woodward in Detroit, talk of an Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter line and planned improvements on the Pontiac-Chicago Amtrak line.

Couple this with the fact that, according to the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, 26% of households in Detroit do not have a car.

That leads to the question: What would better public transit options mean to Detroit – a city so deeply-rooted in the car culture?

Richard Murphy is the programs director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. He just finished his term on Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority Board. We spoke with him today.

*Listen to the audio above.

Transportation
9:23 pm
Sun January 26, 2014

Contractors sought for $140M Detroit light rail

Artist's conception of proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line
M-1 Rail Detroit

DETROIT – Detroit's light passenger rail project is moving one step closer to reality with a request for contractors to work on the $140 million mass transit system.

The company serving as construction manager on the 3.1-mile M-1 Rail project announced Sunday night that it's seeking proposals from contractors on the project for such services as paving, salvage, traffic signals, water main work and landscaping.

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Transportation
4:36 pm
Sat December 21, 2013

Below-ground work starts on Detroit light rail

Artist's conception of proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line
Credit M-1 Rail Detroit

DETROIT (AP) - Below-ground utility relocation is underway on a 3.3-mile light rail system that will run from Detroit's riverfront to the city's New Center area.

Officials for the M-1 Rail say crews are moving or replacing water catch basins, storm manholes and water main gate valves along Woodward Avenue.

The work is the initial step toward full construction activities on the streetcar system and is not expected to prevent customer access to local businesses.

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Transportation
12:26 am
Mon August 26, 2013

A conference in Lansing this week will attempt to put Michigan railroads on the right track

en.wikipedia.org

In Lansing this week, a group hopes to lay the course for developing Michigan's railroads.

There is a growing demand for passenger and freight rail transportation. But the question is how to increase capacity on the rail lines that crisscross Michigan.

Tuesday’s conference at Lansing Community College will try to answer that capacity question.

Pasi Lautala is an engineering professor at Michigan Technological University and the director of the MTU Rail Transportation Program.   He’s also one of the co-chairs of the conference.

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Transportation
11:36 am
Fri January 18, 2013

M-1 Rail Project to get $25 million in federal support

M-1 Rail Detroit

Update 11:36 a.m.

At the press conference this morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the M-1 Rail project can go forward using a $25 million TIGER grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).

The money will help support the construction of the $137 million streetcar project.

The 3.3 mile streetcar line is planned to travel from Midtown Detroit to New Center. It's planned to have 11 stations, with connections to Campus Martius, Comerica Park, the Detroit Medical Center area, and Wayne State University.

LaHood also announced an additional $6.5 million in funding to help develop a "bus rapid transit network" to help connect other destinations around Detroit to the transportation network.

In a statement, LaHood said the state's passage of a law authorizing a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan will "will improve access to jobs, education, medical care, and other destinations for residents in the Detroit metro area."

“The Obama Administration is committed to the creation of a modern transportation system that will create jobs Detroit needs right now, while spurring new economic development to help this region grow stronger in the years to come,” said LaHood.

9:20 a.m.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is in Detroit this morning to announce $25 million in funding for the city's M-1 rail line.

David Shepardson of the Detroit News reports the M-1 rail money was expected, but federal money for "a system of rapid buses will receive less than initially forecast."

LaHood — who will make the formal announcement at 9:30 a.m. Friday at Wayne State University with Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing — told congressional offices Friday morning the news.

The funds will support construction of a planned 3.3-mile streetcar line that will cost $137 million.

LaHood also said that $6.5 million in Federal Transit Administration planning funds will help Michigan develop a bus rapid transit network to expand transit options, connecting downtown Detroit with its suburbs and key destinations in the region.

M-1 supporters say construction of the rail project could begin this year.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek is covering the press conference.

Transportation
12:59 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

U.S. transit chief in Detroit Friday on big project

m-1rail.com

DETROIT (AP) - U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is coming to Detroit on Friday to make "a major funding announcement" that is expected to involve plans for a light rail system between the city's downtown and the cultural, medical and educational center a few miles north.

LaHood's office said in a statement Wednesday that Mayor Dave Bing, U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and others will be at Wayne State University to reveal details of a plan "that will significantly expand transit options in downtown Detroit."

The U.S. Transportation Department didn't reveal details, but LaHood has been in talks for months with city, regional and state officials on their part of a deal to create a 3.3-mile light rail line that's expected to cost $137 million.

Transportation
11:03 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Feds to inject $25 million into Detroit light rail project

M-1 Rail Detroit

You can say one thing about the backers of the M-1 light rail project in Detroit, they're persistent.

The on-again, off-again federal funding of the project is now on-again, according to reports from the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News.

The Freep reports U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is expected to visit Detroit next week with $25 million for the light rail project along 3.3 miles of Woodward Avenue.

The rail line is proposed between downtown Detroit and New Center.

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Transportation
3:59 pm
Tue August 21, 2012

New hope for federal funding for proposed light rail line in Detroit

Artist's conception of proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line
M-1 Rail Detroit

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with Michigan officials today to discuss the development of a regional transit authority to oversee a light rail line in Detroit.

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Transportation
6:22 pm
Tue June 19, 2012

It's official: no federal money for Detroit light rail--again

A proposed light rail project on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue won’t be getting millions in federal transit dollars—for now.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood awarded the so-called M-1 project a $25 million TIGER grant in 2010. But late last year, LaHood, Governor Snyder, and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided that money would be better spent on a regional rapid bus system.

Since then, M-1’s private backers—who have pledged millions toward the 3.4-mile span connecting downtown Detroit and the New Center area—have rallied to re-gain government support for the project.

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Commentary
10:11 am
Thu June 7, 2012

Commentary: Blow to Mass Transit

Back in the days when the Big Three really were the BIG Three, Detroit may have been the most hostile place in the nation to mass transit. The city existed to create private transportation for all. You were expected to have your own wheels. Well, the world has changed, and estimates indicate that more than a third of Detroiters have no cars these days, and many more would like to take mass transit when they can -- especially downtown.

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Transportation
3:20 pm
Mon June 4, 2012

Feds: We need to see more before we put money in Detroit light rail

An artist's rendering of the proposed M-1 light rail project.
m-1rail.com

Elected leaders and private backers of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line met with federal transit officials in Detroit Monday.

They left that meeting with yet another 60-day deadline to try and secure federal funding.

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News Roundup
8:49 am
Mon June 4, 2012

In this morning's news...

Brother O'Mara Flickr

Federal investment in Detroit light rail? Ray LaHood in Detroit today

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be in Detroit today to meet with a group of business leaders and government officials. The topic of discussion will be the on-again, off-again light rail system in Detroit.

More from MPRN's Rick Pluta:

The M-1 project on the main thoroughfare of Woodward Avenue could eventually connect with a regional system.

Governor Rick Snyder plans to attend. He says light rail is part of a strategy to make Michigan’s largest city as attractive to entrepreneurs and young people as Chicago or Boston...

Businesspeople and government officials hope for more federal financial support for the project, which would operate for several years before reaching the break-even point.

Detroit's top lawyer says consent agreement with the state is not legal

Detroit's consent agreement with the state of Michigan is facing a legal challenge by Krystal Crittendon. More from the Detroit News:

The city's top attorney, Krystal A. Crittendon, could single-handedly derail the historic consent agreement between the city and state if she can convince a judge to endorse her opinion that the document is illegal.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports Crittendon doesn't have the full support of Mayor Dave Bing and some city council members:

Mayor Dave Bing initially made conflicting statements about a legal challenge. He publicly opposed it, but then admitted he supported the “concept” of the letter.

But now Bing says litigation would be a distraction.

Officials with the state have called the challenge nonsense. They plan to move forward with the agreement.

Venus and the Sun come together for a once-in-a-lifetime show

Tonight, the planet Venus can be seen crossing in front of the sun. It's known as the "transit of Venus" and it only happens once around every one hundred years.

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith says she "stumbled across the transit while gulping down an awesome new beer at one of my favorite spots in Benton Harbor, The Livery Microbrewery."

People in Michigan will be able to see the transit of Venus for a roughly three hour window beginning at 6 o’clock and lasting until the sun sets.

The transit won’t happen again until the year 2117, so it’s a pretty big deal to professional and amateur astronomers alike.

“Oh yeah, we’re having a full out party,” said Richard Bell, President of the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society.

Politics
5:00 am
Tue April 24, 2012

Rail group says it has money to build system, run it for a decade

An artist's rendering of a light rail station in Detroit.
M-1 Rail

A group with plans to build a privately funded light rail line in Detroit says it has the money it needs to construct it, and to run it for ten years. Backers laid out their case in a feasibility study submitted to the federal government.

The M-1 rail line would run along a three-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Supporters say it’s an important project – especially at a time when the city of Detroit is cutting back dramatically on its spending.

"We view the M-1 initiative as a real catalyst for economic development along this entire downtown district that is undergoing a bit of a renaissance already, but we think this can even jump-start it.," said M-1 Rail President Matt Cullen.

The project was nearly derailed late last year – after Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Governor Rick Snyder pulled their support in favor of a rapid bus system. The mayor and governor now say they think both projects should move forward.

If and when a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan gets off the ground, the idea is to hand the system over to that authority.

"Our aspiration to own and operate a rail system long-term," Cullen said. "It’s a group of philanthropists that have put this together."

Construction is expected to begin in early 2013, and be completed in 2015.

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Economy
1:51 pm
Mon April 23, 2012

More private backing for light rail plan in Detroit

An artists rendition of the "Foxtown/Stadium" stop for the proposed light rail project in Detroit.
screen grab from YouTube video

Back in December, it seemed a 3-mile light rail project in Detroit along Woodward Avenue was put on the scrap heap when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood raised doubts that Detroit could pay the operating costs for the proposed line.

In discussions, Detroit Mayor Bing, Gov. Snyder, and LaHood opted for a rapid bus system instead.

But as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek has been reporting, private investors who were backing the light rail project pushed back on the bus idea.

Now the Detroit Free Press reports the M-1 Rail Group says they'll put up the money to run the system for the first 10 years.

The M-1 Rail Group outlined the details in a report it has sent to the federal government. The group of private investors and philanthropic groups behind the effort said they would commit to paying the estimated $5.1 million annual cost of operating the Woodward rail line through 2025.

After the first ten years, the group says they would donate the system "to the appropriate agency, such as a regional transit authority that Gov. Rick Snyder and the Legislature are working to create for southeast Michigan..."

Transportation
6:39 pm
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.

Transportation
6:42 pm
Fri January 6, 2012

Hope still alive for Detroit light rail project

An artist's rendering of light rail on Woodward Ave.

There’s a chance light rail might still be a part of Detroit’s transportation future.

But backers of a proposed rail line on Woodward Avenue face a deadline to prove they have a viable plan.

In December, federal transportation officials, Governor Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing decided the M-1 light rail project should be scrapped.

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Politics
5:23 pm
Mon August 8, 2011

Detroit seeks national advice on light rail

An artist's rendering of the proposed light rail project in Detroit.
M1 Rail

Detroit is trying to build a new light rail system.

Transit officials from different U.S. cities who have done just that dispensed some advice at Wayne State University Monday.

At one point, Detroit had one of the world’s best light rail systems. Now, it’s trying to rebuild a modest version from scratch.

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Transportation
4:07 pm
Mon April 11, 2011

Bonds for Detroit light rail project approved by city council

An artist's depiction of the M1 light rail system.
M1 Rail

Detroit City Council has approved $125 million in bonds to help pay for a light rail system that will stretch from downtown Detroit to the New Center.

The total cost of the project is expected to be $528 million, according to Bill Shea at Detroit Crain's Business.

Council also approved a $25 million TIGER grant from the federal government (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery).

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