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  #21  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2009, 4:52 AM
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neat to watch this unfold
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  #22  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2009, 4:52 AM
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Let's just hope you're wrong about #1.

As for #2, the Woodward Line will replace the current DDOT bus route (I believe it's their busiest line), and they've projected a growth for the line (22,200 a day by the time this opens), a little low to start, but enough, obviously, to justify a line in their eyes. Like any light rail line, a lot of this is about creating demand. If Baltimore can get away with a 20 mile lightrail line that only runs 32,100 people a day, and Cleveland gets away with an 18 mile line that carries just over 12,000 a day, Detroit can definitely start out with an 8 miles line that carries 22,200 a day. And, that's just within the city of Detroit. You take it north of 8 Mile, and you get into a whole other ball game.

As for the "airport line" it's an Ann Arbor to Detroit line that happens to make use of the airport stop. They are counting on more than just air traffic to make the line work. It's also starting off with just a few commuter trains. Read the actual articles above.
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  #23  
Old Posted Feb 1, 2009, 7:12 PM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
You know, I've been asking myself the same thing. To be honest, I think its that we've been brought to our lowest and we feel that we've got nothing to lose by going all in. I think people finally realize that we're so far behind everywhere else, but more importantly they realize why we're so far behind. It's almost as if it was a miraculous epiphany. If you'd told me even five years ago we'd have Republicans in our state as far away as places like Traverse City supporting regional mass transit in Detroit, I'd have told you you were crazy.
I know that feeling, that "brought to our lowest" sentiment. It's good to see development in this sense. I would love to see what a comprehensive public trans system would actually do for metro Detroit.

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I also think that you can't leave Granholm out of this push, either. Engler would have never been so on board with this. For all of the crap she's gotten, she's chosen the right people to lead the push for this.
From what I remember, Granholm was also in favor of developing the miles and miles of unused land we already have, instead of pushing out to Northville/Novi/the other soulless burbs. Not that that went through, but she has a good history there.

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As for the cost, taxes, of course. What kind of taxes, though, they are still working out.
I would so pay that tax.
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  #24  
Old Posted Feb 2, 2009, 7:57 AM
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Originally Posted by ginsan2 View Post
From what I remember, Granholm was also in favor of developing the miles and miles of unused land we already have, instead of pushing out to Northville/Novi/the other soulless burbs. Not that that went through, but she has a good history there.
Yes, one of her very first executive orders ordered that state governments looking for new space look at renovating and expanding exisiting facilities, or looking to brownfields within cities before considering suburban/exurban locations to relocate to. Another one of her first executive orders was the creation of the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council to study and report to her about sprawl and how to reduce it. This is not to mention her orderings that road renovation projects get priority over expansion projects (this is how she shut down the proposed I-75 Expansion through Oakland County), among many other things.

Hell, Engler probably didn't even know how to spell "urban", let alone identifying sprawl and dying cities as a problem. For whatever grief she gets on the handling of the state economy, she's the first governor to ever directly address in a progressive way land-use issues, and gets and "A" for that in my book.
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  #25  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2009, 7:34 AM
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Troy and Birmingham are going in on a centralized intermodal transit center that will be capable of being tied into Detroit's regional mass transit plan. Things just keep moving foward:

Quote:

Growth platform: Troy, Birmingham race for $7M for transit site

Jennifer Chambers / The Detroit News

February 2, 2009

Troy -- The cities of Troy and Birmingham are racing the clock to finance a multimillion-dollar regional transportation center designed to increase rail travel, provide a regional transfer point for SMART buses and offer taxi and black sedan service.

Both cities have 16 months -- or until June 2010 -- to come up with $7 million to fund construction of a transit center building, a pedestrian tunnel and two platforms on a 3-acre parcel behind Midtown Square shopping plaza near Maple Road and Coolidge Highway.

The new station, called the Troy Intermodal Transit Facility, is envisioned as a hub in a larger regional transit system planned for Metro Detroit, including a commuter rail line from Ann Arbor to Detroit and a proposed light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit to the suburbs of Oakland County.

The transit center, on the Troy side of the railroad tracks, would be built around the existing Amtrak rail line and stop in Birmingham and give passengers centralized access to bus, taxi and limousine services, which could help connect them to the northern suburbs.


Officials from both cities have been working on a transit center project since 2000 when developer Grand Sakwa, under a consent judgment, agreed to donate the land to Troy with the condition it be used for a transit center. The property will revert to Grand Sakwa if the deadline is not met.

In December, Troy and Birmingham agreed to pay the law firm Clark Hill $7,500 a month to lobby state and federal lawmakers for the funds.

City officials hope the transit center is an ideal candidate for funds in the federal economic recovery plan proposed by President Barack Obama. Obama is lobbying for congressional passage of an $825 billion stimulus package.

"We have an excellent chance of receiving funding under the stimulus plan," Birmingham City Planner Jana Ecker said. "We are one of the few packages for transit that is this far along." U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said he is working with state, municipal and business leaders to help gather support to get the project off the ground.

Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United said the success of mass transit demands that people know where to catch a bus or train and where the routes go. Providing a centralized area for people to get information gives them an easy connection to the system, she said.

Plus, rail passengers who already use the Birmingham station would welcome the new amenities, Owens said.

"These types of transit centers can be a boost for redevelopment," Owens said. "You get lots of mixed use and condos and lofts around transit centers."

Bill Cowger of the Troy Chamber of Commerce said the transit center is a small capital expense with a huge potential payoff.

"Other transit proposals require major infrastructure. The primary infrastructure for this project is already there: the railroad. It's a really small investment for a huge leap to make Troy and Birmingham more walkable and eventually connect to the Ann Arbor-Detroit rail," Cowger said. "Once the service is provided, they will come."

City leaders said they plan to hold brainstorming workshops in the spring to get input from the public on the proposal.

You can reach Jennifer Chambers at (248) 647-7402 or jchambers@detnews.com.
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  #26  
Old Posted Feb 3, 2009, 6:40 PM
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I wonder, does anyone know what the zoning for residential/commecial is around these areas? If these cities are creating transit corridors, are they also zoning for higher densities?
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  #27  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2009, 4:56 AM
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The Troy transit center makes no sense. They need to do it in downtown Birmingham, where it's walkable and dense.

I guess they're doing it in Troy because of the train tracks, but two trains a day won't guide land-use and transit patterns. In contrast, downtown Birmingham has the Woodward Corridor and the potential for a transit-friendly lifestyle.
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  #28  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2009, 7:37 AM
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Huh? You just contradicted yourself. They are using existing transit infrastructure. This is incorporating the existing Birmingham station. How else would you propose doing this outside of creating an entire new line that have to tear out all kinds of property and thus make this totally unfeasible? Is there nothing that you don't complain about? Really, I wasn't going to say anything, but this is getting tiring.
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  #29  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2009, 7:46 AM
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LMich, the existing transit infrastructure on the proposed site is two trains a day. That isn't public transit.

The existing transit infrastructure on Woodward is a bus every few minutes. That's the best transit in Michigan.

And then that isn't even comparing walkable Bham to autocentric Troy.
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  #30  
Old Posted Feb 4, 2009, 7:48 AM
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What is your solution, then? That's what I'm asking.

BTW, do you happen to know where Birmingham's Amtrak station is? Look at a Google area and see where this is in Troy. You're acting as if this is on Big Beaver. This is literally between Birmingham and Troy and is actually walkable from downtown Birmingham, a straight shot down Maple, though, I will concede it's a bit far.
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  #31  
Old Posted Feb 21, 2009, 8:38 PM
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This is awesome news! A solid first step.

Now, of course, comes the reality...

1. How on earth can this be funded (metro Detroit will NOT tax itself for transit, and Washington will NOT give an authority construction $$$ without at least equal local funding)

2. How on earth can ridership projections be sufficient? Detroit doesn't have much congestion, and it doesn't have very major activity centers or corridors.

You need either factor (preferably both) for transit to have a chance of working. Woodward doesn't have any congestion. What would incentivize someone to take transit, when there's no congestion and plenty of cheap parking downtown?

And the airport line is a headscratcher. Everyone traveling to the airport uses a car, and visitors' destinations are too dispersed. There's currently a bus between the airport and downtown, and it only runs hourly. Why would you spend hundreds of millions to do the same thing by rail?

The proposed tax is a NEW County Sales Tax to include Wayne, Oakland and Macomb of one half percent for transit operations and one half percent for the county road commision. The transit operation part would replace existing subsidies of $100 Million from the state fuel tax and would include the merger of SMART and DDOT into one regional controlled system without city funding from Detroit which would pay the same tax as suburbanites.

This is currently a popular one of many proposals by state lawmakers, regional transit planners, transit tax advocates and Detroit city officials. The existing funds would be used to match funding for federal transit grants and new start up costs according to those who support this and similar proposals.

See savethefueltax.org to learn more.
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  #32  
Old Posted Feb 26, 2009, 3:26 AM
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Hey guys, is anybody in the local (Detroit) media talking about Michigan's leg in the $8 billion HSR program?
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  #33  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2009, 8:19 AM
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Looks like the private lin from downtown to New Center is further along than most folks in the region knew:

Quote:

Bids for Woodward rail line being reviewed

BY JOHN GALLAGHER • FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER • March 6, 2009

The proposed privately funded light-rail system on Woodward Avenue has a new name and an aggressive timetable as planners take the first practical steps to turn the idea into reality.

Formerly known as TRAIL for the Regional Area Initial Link, the system is now called M1-RAIL after the state designation for Woodward Avenue -- M1.

Paul Childs, a staffer at the nonprofit Downtown Detroit Partnership, now serves as project manager for M1-RAIL. He said Monday that bids for engineering design and pre-construction oversight were issued in late February and project staffers are now reviewing submissions from various firms.

Contracts could be awarded for those tasks as early as late March. Planners hope to break ground by fall and have the rail system running by late 2010 if all goes well.


"That's pretty ambitious," Childs admitted. "Everything has to align to make that happen." But he added, "We have a goal, and we think the goal is doable."

Ann Lang, president of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, said progress on the M1-RAIL system proved that good things can happen, even in a depressed economy.

"It's wonderful at this time to have something so big and so positive to rally around," she said.

Civic leader John Hertel led the Woodward Avenue rail effort until state lawmakers recently passed legislation allowing for the creation of the privately funded system. Hertel now has moved on to planning a region-wide transit system.

Businessman and civic leader Roger Penske, chair of the downtown partnership, serves as chair of M1-RAIL. Matthew Cullen, a former General Motors executive, serves as CEO of the rail venture. He is also president and chief operating officer of Rock Enterprises, a holding company for entrepreneurial firms controlled by Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans.

The $100 million needed to build the system is being raised by selling sponsorships of individual stations to prominent business leaders and institutions. Wayne State University has agreed to sponsor one station, while other sponsors include Penske, Peter Karmanos Jr. of Compuware Corp., Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, and the Ilitch family of pizza and sports fame.

Penske, Cullen, and project manager Childs are not being paid for their work with M1-RAIL.


The M1-RAIL system would feature streetcars running up both sides of Woodward Avenue in the second lane out from the curb between Jefferson Avenue and New Center. Childs said that the system probably would order either six or seven large passenger cars or 10 to 12 smaller ones.

Each of the 13 stops would involve two stations, one on either side of the street, to accommodate both north and south traffic.

The system still needs to obtain a City of Detroit operating license.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com.
This is really quite impressive. It shows that the business community is very serious about this. I still can't believe it's happening, especially considering what's going on economically and socially in the region, at the moment.
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  #34  
Old Posted Mar 6, 2009, 2:56 PM
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^ Great news.

Watch out, world. Detroit is landing on its feet
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  #35  
Old Posted Mar 7, 2009, 3:19 AM
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I don't know about all of that, but of all of the moving parts of this metro, at least transit is getting moving in the right direction, again.
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  #36  
Old Posted Mar 20, 2009, 10:50 AM
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Good news indeed. It looks like this is a good time to invest in property between DT and New Center.
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  #37  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 8:21 PM
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Any new word on all this M1 Rail stuff?
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  #38  
Old Posted Apr 26, 2009, 4:32 AM
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Nope. They are a clandestine clique of businessmen; that's for sure. No website, no public input; nothing. And, apparently, they aren't exactly working well with DDOT in trying to tie the two plans, together, despite what both of them say. We probably won't know the details of the plan until they take a backhoe to Woodward in the middle of the night. lol

As for the DDOT light rail proposal, a meeting was held a few days ago (the 21st, or so) to update the public and they are currently in the required environmental impact study phase of the whole thing. It's still moving forward on schedule.
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  #39  
Old Posted May 22, 2009, 5:43 AM
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Well, it appears a deal has been struck. Essentially, DDOT has ceded their plans south of New Center over to M1-Rail:

Quote:

Deal with city gives Detroit’s light-rail backers green light

By Bill Shea / Crain's Detroit Business

May. 21, 2009

Backers of a privately-funded $125 million light-rail line on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue have reached an accord with the city’s transportation department to move ahead with their version of the project.

The Detroit Department of Transportation’s proposed $371 million “Detroit Transit Options for Growth” included different types of trains and a center-of-street layout for Woodward, putting the two projects initially at loggerheads.

Now, the private plan, known as the M1 Rail, is likely to develop its 3.4 mile curb-side system as planned, and have it connect into the DTOG system north of the New Center Area — or whatever public train system that comes to fruition.

“This is in no way competition,” said M1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen said, adding that he’s been in talks with Norman White, the city’s CFO who was previously the MDOT director, a position that remains vacant.

Messages were left for White and for DDOT assistant director Lovevett Williams.

North of the M1 Rail’s terminus at the New Center area, the line is expected to converge into a higher speed center-of-street system that moves at a faster commuter rate with fewer stops, Cullen said.

That would match DDOT’s original plan, which proposes a line extending to the State Fairgrounds at Eight Mile Road.

Since the closely guarded M1 Rail project first came to light in Crain’s last year, it was obvious the two projects would have to reconcile because the DTOG plan included the same portion of Woodward.

However, the city’s plan relies on federal funding that hasn’t been applied for because Detroit doesn’t have the required matching money — leading to speculation about the project’s viability.

The nonprofit M1-Rail, which got needed legislative approvals and state operational funding mechanisms put in place in January, includes money from private backers, foundations and corporations, and will run a 12-stop route from Hart Plaza to Grand Boulevard in New Center, running past major business, cultural, medical, educational and sporting destinations.Its financial and organizational backers include Penske Corp. founder Roger Penske Peter, who is chairman of the M1 Rail project; Peter Karmanos Jr., founder of Detroit-based software maker Compuware Corp.; Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings and co-founder of Little Caesar Enterprises Inc.; and Quicken Loans/Rock Financial founder Dan Gilbert, who’s the project’s co-chairman.

Cullen is also president and COO of Gilbert’s Rock Enterprises holding company.

The project is under the supervision of the nonprofit Downtown Detroit Partnership, a private-public partnership of corporate and civic leaders, led by chairman Roger Penske. It’s a key element, but separate, from a $10 billion three-county regional transit plan being developed by transit czar John Hertel for the elected executives of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb counties and Detroit.

The M1 Rail will eventually be turned over to the authority that runs the three-county system. Hertel orchestrated the secret meetings of the private backers for nearly two years before turning the project over the downtown partnership.

The M1 Rail project was discussed Thursday morning with reporters at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Here are some of the other highlights:

• The goal is to begin construction by the end of the year and have the line running no later than 18 months later. “It’s an aggressive timeline,” Cullen said. Survey crews are already at work.

• The project’s executives are in discussions with “two or three” financiers to assemble the money aspect of the rail system, Cullen said. He declined to reveal names, but said they would be banks that have an extensive local presence. Because the project’s funding is coming in over time, money will need to be financed up front.

• Ten individuals, foundations or corporations have donated at least $3 million each, Cullen said. (See related box, on the project’s funding and cost estimates.)

• The line will be in the second lane from the curb, preserving parking along Woodward and co-mingled with traffic. Stations will protrude by the curbside and will include advertising and branding. “This is very much a pedestrian-friendly system,” Cullen said. The cars, which will be a hybrid between modern street cars and traditional light rail, will typically carry 100-125 people, and more than 200 during major events such as ballgames.

• The service will be available from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. with an estimated 75-cent toll that will be honor-based, meaning tickets are bought prior to boarding and are randomly checked during trips. There will be discounted tickets for students, seniors and frequent riders. Revenue fare is expected to account for just a small amount of the line’s operating funding, with the rest coming from state subsidy’s and taxes captured from development along the route, as authorized by the legislation signed into law in January.

• The project will require some level of approval from the city, and cooperation, but Cullen said it’s not completely certain yet that the city council would have to sign off the rail line. Woodward is a state highway, so the Michigan Department of Transportation has primary oversight, but the city has a role, too. He also said Mayor Dave Bing is aware of the project, and will be getting more in-depth briefing soon.

• There are no plans to seek federal stimulus money for the M1 Rail, but Cullen said it’s cost could be used as the local match portion of any publicly funded extension of the line and as part of the larger regional transit project.

• The rail company will attempt to broker a deal to piggyback another city’s production run of train cars, Cullen said. There are just a handful of light rail vehicle manufacturers, and car orders often are for dozens or hundreds, so Cullen said a manufacturer might be willing to add Detroit’s dozen or so units onto a pre-existing order. Notable manufacturers include Germany’s Siemens Transportations Systems, Bombardier Transportation in Montreal and Oregon Iron Works Inc. in Clackamas, Ore.

• The line’s route is still being studied. Because of the physical restrictions involved in a light-rail vehicle’s turning radius, it’s possible the line may switch at Campus Martius to Washington Avenue to form a loop that extends to Jefferson Avenue and back to Woodward, Cullen said. Another option is a train stopping, the driver walking to the other end of the vehicle and simply driving from the other end from a Y-shaped terminus. “We’re looking to understand what makes sense,” Cullen said.

• Henry Ford Hospital has expressed interest in a spur line connecting to the New Center Area stop.

Cullen also briefly addressed speculation that the private backers getting any direct financial gain from the project: No, they won’t. “It’s pure philanthropy by the private funders,” he said.

• The M1 Rail was originally called The Regional Area Initial Link, or TRAIL, but possibilities for new names are being studied.
Quote:

WHO’S WORKING ON WHAT

The following companies have deals to provide professionals services for the M1 Rail project:

Architecture

• Kansas City-based HOK Group Inc. (lead architect)
• Detroit-based Hamilton Anderson Associates, ConstrucTWO LLC and BEI Associates Inc.

Pre-construction

• Detroit-based Walbridge Aldinger

Mainline engineering

• San Francisco-based URS Corp., which has an office in Detroit
• LTK Engineering Services (Ambler, Pa.)
• Three Detroit-based subcontractors: Tucker, Young, Jackson, Tull Inc.; Metco Services Inc. and NTH Consultants Ltd.

Vehicle procurement

• LTK Engineering Services
Public relations, marketing and branding
• Eisbrenner Public Relations (Troy), The Bingman Group (Lansing) and Gyro Creative (Detroit).

Source: M1 Rail
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  #40  
Old Posted May 24, 2009, 6:23 AM
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Rendering of M1-Rail Streetcar:


Freep.com

This is looking south along Woodward near Mack.
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