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Old Posted Apr 23, 2012, 8:09 PM
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Woodward light-rail group boosts cost estimate to $137 million
APRIL 23, 2012

Washington— Advocates of the M-1 light-rail project that will run up Woodward Avenue submitted a 1,200-page report to the U.S. Transportation Department aimed at assuring the government the project is feasible.

The report, released Friday, offers new details about the 3.31-mile line. It boosts the estimated cost from $100 million to $137 million, citing possible contingencies, inflation and financing costs. It also says annual operation and maintenance costs will be $5.1 million — a number it reached in talks with the Federal Transit Administration.


The group said it has $84 million in private sector and philanthropic pledges and $16 million in tax credits. That leaves the project about $12 million short — assuming it receives $25 million in federal grants that will be awarded late next month.

The group "is already in active discussions for new commitments totaling approximately half of the additional amount," the letter said.

The letter also reveals some other issues.

"There are inherent risks and unknowns as to the capital cost," M-1 supporters wrote. "Until the final engineering work is completed to physically confirm subsurface conditions, one cannot know for sure exactly what lies beneath Woodward Avenue."

The project is to be built in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation's planned 2013 reconstruction of Woodward Avenue, which could reduce costs. "We will not dig until we are certain that we can deliver," the M-1 group told LaHood.

M-1 donors will buy naming rights or make other donations to create a $10 million endowment to operate and maintain the system for up to 10 years. In 2025, M-1 plans to donate the rail system to a public agency such as the proposed Regional Transit Authority that awaits approval by the state Legislature.


From The Detroit News:
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