M1 Rail project gets final OK from federal government
The federal government gave its final environmental clearance Monday for the M1 Rail line to begin its work to build a 3.3-mile streetcar line on Woodward between downtown Detroit and the New Center area, a move that the rail line’s leader called a significant step forward.The M1 Light Rail could be running as soon as late 2015. That's the good news. WXYZ has the bad news in DDOT loses $7 Million in funding, SMART gets the money.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) completed its environmental review, allowing the project to proceed to its next phases: design, purchase of right-of-way along Woodward and then construction. M1 Rail officials said the decision marks the federal government’s seal of approval for the $140-million plan to build the rail line from Congress to just north of Grand Boulevard, with stops along the route.
The environmental clearance wasn’t a surprise. The Obama administration has signaled its approval of the project, which had hinged on the creation of a Regional Transit Authority for southeast Michigan, created last year in an act by the Legislature.
The authority ultimately will have control over federal funding for the Detroit Department of Transportation and suburban SMART bus systems and will ask voters in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties as early as November 2014 for a new tax to help build a regional bus rapid-transit network.
As the man on the street reaction shows in the video, this is not good news for DDOT riders, as the service is bad enough as it is. On the other hand, the service in the suburbs is in some ways even worse, as more than half the jobs in metro Detroit are beyond the reach of public transit in the more distant suburbs. Expansion of SMART would help with that.