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  #101  
Old Posted Apr 12, 2011, 8:20 AM
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Well, that was quick:

Quote:
Detroit City Council approves bond sale to build Woodward rail line

By Bill Shea | Crain's Detroit Business

April 11, 2011

All of the required local matching funds needed to qualify for federal money have been arranged for the $520 million light-rail project on Woodward Avenue.

The Detroit City Council this morning unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes the sale of up to $125 million in bonds for construction of a portion of the line.

About $73 million from the sale of Capital Grant Receipts Revenue Bonds will be used to cover the city’s portion of the rail project, and the remainder will be spent on capital purchases, such as new Detroit Department of Transportation buses.

The city has worked out an agreement with the Federal Transit Administration that allows DDOT to use about 30 percent of the $26 million to $28 million it gets annually from the FTA’s Section 5307 grants to be used instead for debt service payments on the bonds.

The bonds are expected to cost the city $10 million annually over 15 years.

...

A deal worked out last year in Congress allows DDOT to use the private money as part of the local match needed to qualify for federal funding that would account for up to 60 percent of the remainder of the line’s capital costs.

The rail plan is expected to qualify for the funding under the FTA’s New Starts program, which is aimed at partially funding qualified local fixed-guideway transit projects such as rail.

The federal government has been expediting the project’s regulatory process, trimming it to about a year instead of three, and a decision on final funding from Washington could happen this summer.
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  #102  
Old Posted May 5, 2011, 7:00 AM
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The title seems to paint a more grim picture than what the article actually investigates. Looks like things are moving forward, though and as usual, more slowly than anyone would like. Love the thorough update, though:

Quote:
Obstacles, funding questions plague Ann Arbor-Detroit rail line, but progress is being made

Tom Perkins | Ann Arbor.com

May 4, 2011

Planners of a proposed Ann Arbor-to-Detroit rail line are slowing making progress, although the project still faces a list of obstacles and financial uncertainty.

That’s the message Carmine Palombo delivered to the Ypsilanti City Council during an update on the effort at council's regular Tuesday night meeting.

...

He said he hopes a demonstration train might be available later in the year to take riders to a football game in Ann Arbor or Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, for example. But officials had similar hopes last year and Palombo declined to offer any timelines on when demonstration trains or a regular routes might be running.

Chief among the issues is how commuter and passenger trains will share rail lines with the freight train companies that own them.

In some spots along the 38 miles of rail, sidetracks need to be built that would allow trains to pass one another, but the largest obstacle is an intersection of tracks in west Detroit between the Dearborn and downtown Detroit stations.


As the route runs east past Dearborn, it turns north at an intersection that sees heavy freight traffic. In order for a commuter or passenger train to head north there, the trains are required to do a turnaround that significantly slows the route.

MDOT is funding a $12 to $15 million project to add an extra track that would double the intersection’s capacity, alleviate congestion and allow for better flow.

Palombo said the project is funded by federal high speed rail grants, and he hopes it will completed by the end of 2011, though it could run into 2012.

...

Three train cars are renovated, of which one is undergoing minor redesigns for safety issues. Full service would require three locomotives and nine cars, Palombo said, and funds to lease 24 cars are available.

Funding is still needed for an estimated $25 to $30 million in remaining “smaller” capital improvement projects, such as signs and sidetracks. But complicating the situation are discussions between MDOT and Norfolk-Southern about MODT purchasing the tracks between Dearborn and Kalamazoo. If that sale goes through, some of the planned capital improvement projects might be unnecessary, so officials don’t want to start spending unnecessarily.

Question marks also remain over the source of the required $8 million to $10 million in annual operating costs. That money and capital funds could come via $150 million in federal high speed rail grants, which the state must match with at least $37 million of its own money. Palombo said SEMCOG officials have met with Gov. Rick Snyder to discuss the grant, and he is confident the administration is committed to offering matching funds

“He isn’t just going to leave $150 million sitting there unused,” Palombo said.

...
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  #103  
Old Posted Jun 9, 2011, 7:17 PM
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Metro Detroit's bus system fight may risk millions


Jun. 8, 2011

BY MATT HELMS AND CHRISTINA HALL

Read More: http://www.freep.com/article/2011060...risk-millions-

Quote:
Metro Detroit has its most realistic chance in a generation of creating a rail and bus transit system that could transform how the region commutes and launch economic redevelopment from downtown to the suburbs. But if Detroit and tri-county leaders can't agree on combining city and suburban bus systems -- an ambition that has eluded the region for decades -- they risk forfeiting millions in federal money. The Obama administration has put up $25 million -- and more if the region shows it can work together -- toward Woodward Avenue light rail, a plan backed with millions more pledged by private backers. At the same time, Detroit's budget crisis and declining suburban property tax revenues are putting enormous pressure on DDOT and SMART, the region's separate bus agencies.

"Both systems are down to cutting into bone at this point," said Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, a Detroit-based transit advocacy group. "I think the public understands the need to invest in transit, but will the politicians listen?" On that point, stumbling blocks have already arisen, but representatives of Detroit Mayor Dave Bing point out that regional authorities have been established to oversee city-owned assets such as the water system and Cobo Center.

To someone who uses public transportation, like Jackie Allen, metro Detroit's patchwork bus network is failing and the region's inability to settle differences -- be they political or social -- are hurting those who depend on the system most. "The bus system in Detroit is terrible right now," Allen, 46, of Detroit said as she waited downtown for a bus that was 20 minutes That goal has eluded southeast Michigan for decades, however, with increasingly dire implications: The Detroit Department of Transportation is in crisis mode, slashing routes and ending 24-hour service on June 27 as the system bleeds $54 million a year from the city's budget. The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) has avoided service cuts, but a $7-million hit to its 2011-12 budget foreshadows more trouble.

Cities across the nation -- including Denver, Dallas, Phoenix and Portland, Ore. -- are building light-rail networks and modernizing buses to lure people back to urban centers and spur redevelopment. Meanwhile, public transit in metro Detroit withers.late. Allen is unemployed and uses public transportation for job hunting. "Maybe if (the bus system) became regional, it would be better for people," she said.

.....



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  #104  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2011, 11:38 AM
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  #105  
Old Posted Jun 18, 2011, 4:36 PM
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No doubt private financiers will win out against the logic of putting the train down the center.
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  #106  
Old Posted Jun 19, 2011, 5:08 AM
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It boggles the mind that any city would build (or even consider building) a new streetcar line without it's own R.O.W. in this day and age. Utter stupidity and a massive waste of funds.
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  #107  
Old Posted Jun 21, 2011, 4:26 AM
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I recently contacted Detroit Transit Riders United (TRU), and advocacy group for mass transit in Detroit. I was told they'll (or maybe DDOT) be announcing some additional on July 1st, namely that TRU and the city have won on the median-running/grade seperated alignment of the system, but that the private funders won on the number of stops (more instead of fewer).

The city had never actually considered curb-side running, that was the private capital funders of the plan. When you're not paying for the intial construction of the system, you have to comprise with those who are paying for the construction of the system.

BTW, even with the information I got from TRU, prior to that, I was still hearing that the alignment in the core (downtown to New Center) could possibly be curb-running, and that the line would take a median-running approach north of New Center.
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  #108  
Old Posted Jun 21, 2011, 12:41 PM
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Very exciting news, thanks for the update. Sorry if I was a little bit cynical previously, it just too often seems to be the way things go with the private sector.
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  #109  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2011, 3:08 AM
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The official configuration for the line has finally been chosen, and here is the formal announcement. As I'd found out a week ago, this will be center-running with 19 stations. Let's just hope that MI-Rail is mature enough to chalk up their loss on this, and not withhold their part of the funding for construction. It's time to show that this can be done in Detroit, and it's time to show it, now:

Quote:
Final route announced for $500M Woodward light-rail project

Tom Greenwood | The Detroit News

June 29, 2011

Detroit— Calling it a "landmark moment," Mayor Dave Bing has announced an agreement between the city and the Federal Transportation Administration establishing a final route for the city's planned $500 million light-rail project.

Under the agreement, the 19-stop rail system — informally referred to as the "hockey stick route" because of its shape — would run from the old State Fairgrounds at 8 Mile south to Congress and then west to Washington Boulevard.

From there it would then move north to the Rosa Parks Transit Center, just north of Michigan Avenue. The rail system will then loop south on Washington to Larned and then east to Woodward and back north to 8 Mile.

The final route will vary from its original proposal, which saw the system running solely on Woodward from Hart Plaza to 8 Mile. Additionally, the new route would have the trolley system running down the center of Woodward, but nearer the curb on Washington Boulevard.

"This is a landmark moment in Detroit's journey to make light rail a reality in our city," Bing said in a release. "With the support of FTA staff, we have reached this target faster than many believed was possible."

...

The signing of the agreement will clear the way for the city to use $25 million in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) awarded to the city in August by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.

According to the mayor's office, the price of the trolley system would come from various sources, including: more than $300 million from the federal government; $100 million pledged by a consortium of private investors; the issuance of $75 million in bonds plus an additional $12.5 million in federal and state grants.

...
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  #110  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2011, 1:37 PM
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  #111  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 1:33 AM
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Awesome news! Seems like common sense to me to have it curbside downtown and then in the center for the rest of the city.
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  #112  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 2:09 AM
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How many people do they expect to ride it?
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  #113  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 3:26 AM
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It looks good, but I hope eventually it can loop out towards Corktown to capture some of the new growth in that area. Even if weak in ridership that direction, it could still pick up a ton of people by having a station at MGM casino and connect them to their hotels. And yes people currently DO walk to the MGM casino
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  #114  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 4:56 AM
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I would love for it to eventually cover each major wheel spoke roads; Gratiot, Grand River, Michigan, etc. So far, I've only seen that they would expand it further into Oakland County if things were going well.

Edit: Just actually looked at the SEMCOG reports for their plans and such. Didn't realize how big the entire plan is/was.

Last edited by animatedmartian; Jul 1, 2011 at 5:41 AM.
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  #115  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 7:15 AM
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The configuration kind of surprises me. It's not either of the three originally proposed options, two of which had the line breaking down Grand River or State, and then heading south to RPTC and then to the financial district. It also had it stretching into Bricktown to pick up the workers in Greektown and the Rencen. Seems to me that they should at least stretch it back up Washington and get your back to Grand Circus Park.
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  #116  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 12:30 PM
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I just noticed that map I posted from Detroit News has the directional arrows going backwards LOL
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  #117  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2011, 12:44 PM
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L. Brooks Patterson says a 1.25% regional sales tax for Greater Detroit would be a "job killer".

http://www.transportmichigan.org/201...calls-for.html
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  #118  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2011, 4:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Will View Post
L. Brooks Patterson says a 1.25% regional sales tax for Greater Detroit would be a "job killer".

http://www.transportmichigan.org/201...calls-for.html
He's been playing this same game with transit for nearly two decades, now. There has to be a regional tax of some sort to make the RTA (regional transit authority) work. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Just do it, already. I can see him being a bit wary if they are talking about a tax to run the current city bus system (D-DOT), alone, but if we're talking about a merged DDOT and SMART, or starting over, entirely, there isn't any other way.

I feel bad for the urban southeast corner of the county he's decidedly neglected for years. They would benefit greatly from this.
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  #119  
Old Posted Jul 5, 2011, 12:32 PM
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Revival Bid Pits Detroit vs. Donor

By MATTHEW DOLANhttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...319014524.html

July 2

Quote:
DETROIT—There's a new driver grabbing the wheel in the Motor City.

He's not an elected official, or a local business titan. He's not even a Detroiter.

He's Rip Rapson, president of the $3.1 billion Kresge Foundation, and his combination of ambition, political connections and financial resources has made him a powerful force in the effort to remake a city much of the country wrote off a generation ago.
Private Money for Motown

View Interactive






See what areas of the city are struggling, and where Kresge Foundation is putting some of its money.


Under Mr. Rapson's watch, Kresge has invested more than $100 million in Detroit's transformation, funding a riverfront promenade, building greenways and backing incentives for entrepreneurs. And he's just getting started.

"Philanthropy has emerged as the sector best able to provide the long-term vision and shorter-term investment of capital the city needs to right itself,"

Mr. Rapson said at a private gathering of urban experts in Detroit this spring.

That foundation-knows-best attitude exasperates Mayor Dave Bing and City Hall officials, who have sought to reassure Detroiters that their voices, not outsiders, will guide efforts to rebuild the city.

"Everyone talks about Kresge, Kresge, Kresge," the mayor said in an interview. "We're pleased with the support we're getting from them, but... Kresge is not doing this in a vacuum by themselves."

.......

The latest flare-up between Mr. Rapson and Mr. Bing came this month over the $500 million Woodward Avenue rail line, for which Kresge has pledged $35 million. Kresge worked with Detroit booster Roger Penske, traveling to Portland, Ore., and Minneapolis to learn about their networks, and pushing a system led by the private sector. Mr. Rapson personally lobbied the U.S. transportation secretary to win a key endorsement. The federal government made an initial pledge of $25 million for the project, which supporters expected would break ground next year.


This spring, the Bing administration moved to put its own stamp on the rail line, offering $80 million and signing an agreement with the U.S. Federal Transit Administration about its scope and design—without notifying the foundations first, according to Mr. Rapson.


Norman White, head of the city's light-rail project, says private funders were kept abreast all along the way, but added that Detroit intends to lead the process.


Miffed by being frozen out of part of the planning process, Mr. Rapson began to rethink Kresge's funding. "Are we going to pull our money out? We won't just because we're annoyed," he said, adding that the parties were discussing the issue. He feels good about his bargaining position. "Everyone knows that Kresge is the do or die for the line."

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  #120  
Old Posted Aug 8, 2011, 12:33 PM
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Quote:


Suburbs looking to get on board light rail

Matt Helms | The Detroit Free Press

August 8, 2011

Detroit's momentum in bringing light rail to Woodward Avenue may finally do what years of talks, political promises and symbolic gestures have failed to do: lead to real regional cooperation.

Leaders in six southern Oakland County cities are taking a big step to literally bridge the 8 Mile divide by extending the rail service into the suburbs.

"We recognize the opportunity here to really help move the region forward," said Berkley City Councilman Steve Baker, a member of a task force of leaders from Oakland County cities.

The proposed rail from downtown to 8 Mile already has 19 stops, including Cobo Center, the city's two sports stadiums, Midtown and New Center.

Supporters say extending the rail north would connect it to suburban hot spots, including downtowns in Royal Oak and Birmingham; boost property values and redevelopment, and raise crucial suburban support for a plan that, so far, has stayed within city limits.

The Oakland group has hired a consulting firm to study how cities from Ferndale to Birmingham may prepare for potentially transformative redevelopment along Woodward.

The group is working on an application for federal funding for a study of transit options for southern Oakland County, a crucial first move. A similar 18-month study by Detroit led to the city's current plans for Woodward rail.

...

The group, under the auspices of Royal Oak-based economic and community development group Woodward Avenue Action Association, is preparing to apply for a federal grant of perhaps $2.5 million for a study of expanded transit options in six Oakland cities: Ferndale, Royal Oak, Huntington Woods, Pleasant Ridge, Berkley and Birmingham.

The group also has support from Beaumont Hospital and the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak.

Officially, the group isn't choosing a specific mode of transit, but it's clear that Detroit's progress on light rail has suburban leaders thinking big -- and getting ready for what could be transformative redevelopment along the region's best-known thoroughfare.

...
http://www.freep.com/article/2011080...326/1001/rss01
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