The local private-sector investment consortium that wants to build a light-rail line on a 3.4-mile stretch of Detroit’s Woodward Avenue has 90 days to compile a plan to refine, finance and build its project, Mayor Dave Bing said in a press conference this afternoon.
The announcement revives plans for downtown rail that were spiked last month because of the city’s worsening financial situation.
“Light rail is not dead. It’s back on the table,” Bing told reporters outside his office at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center.
After 90 days, a decision will be made — it was not said by whom — on whether the plan by M1 Railwould pass muster. If it does, the rail project would be merged with a plan for a high-speed regional bus system.
“This project is going to move ahead in a parallel process,” Gov. Rick Snyder said.
A $528 million public-private plan to build nine miles of rail from downtown to the city limit at Eight Mile Road was scrapped in December for a $500 million, 110-mile system of speedy buses for the region. The system would be built and operated by federal funds and money generated for a proposed regional transit authority.
No other details about the plans were disclosed this afternoon.
Before the meeting, numerous political and private-sector leaders met in Bing’s office to discuss the rail and bus situation. M1 Rail’s backers, along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, had expressed displeasure about the abandonment of the rail line.
Bing, Snyder and M1 Chairman Roger Penske spoke with reporters for five minutes.
Among those who could be seen at the press conference were Levin and Michigan’s other Democratic U.S. senator, Debbie Stabenow; U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; Federal Transit Administration Administrator Peter Rogoff; U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township; Quicken Loans Inc. and Rock Financial founder Dan Gilbert, the M1 project’s co-chairman; and M1 CEO Matt Cullen.
Bill Shea, Crain’s Detroit