For many in the Metropolitan Detroit region, the M-1 Rail project has been a long time coming. Well, I'm happy to say that--after decades of hard work by many, many people--today is the day they've been waiting for.
I was in Detroit earlier this week for the 2013 Auto Show, and I saw the car industry's comeback there firsthand. And today I went back to help the city of Detroit launch a comeback of its own with the announcement of a $25 million commitment from DOT to support construction of the long-awaited streetcar line.
The 3.3 mile streetcar line along historic Woodward Avenue is expected to include 11 stations, with connections to Campus Martius, Comerica Park (home of the Detroit Tigers), the Detroit Medical Center area, and Wayne State University. It will put residents in touch with thousands of local jobs, education, medical care, and other destinations for residents in the Detroit metro area. It will also help them save money on gas.
When we launched our TIGER program in 2009, I said that good transportation projects need good partnerships. Whether it's an effort between regional jurisdictions or collaboration between public and private organizations, a strong partnership can more easily mobilize the resources needed to get big things done and deliver benefits to the community.
I applaud Michigan’s leaders for doing exactly that.
First, a coalition of private-sector philanthropic and business leaders came together and committed more than $100 million toward construction and operation of the $137 million project. Now, the State of Michigan has created a Regional Transportation Authority that connects the city of Detroit with Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw Counties. The M-1 brings both of these coalitions together and also includes the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments.
This is the kind of broad-based partnership we need to build the 21st century infrastructure people demand.
Everywhere I travel in the U.S., people tell me they need more transportation options. Transit systems like the M-1 are a lifeline for hardworking Americans.
Today’s announcement allows the M-1 Rail project to move forward immediately using a $25 million TIGER grant previously awarded for transit in Detroit. We also announced an additional $6.5 million in FTA planning funds available from prior fiscal years to help Michigan develop a bus rapid transit network to further expand transit options connecting downtown Detroit with its suburbs and key destinations in the region.
In addition to helping people get around more easily, the M-1 will also create jobs, spur economic growth, and revitalize Woodward Avenue. As Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff said, "The M-1 Rail project will truly be a catalyst for bringing new jobs, employers, retailers, and attractions into downtown, Midtown, and the New Center area."
This is a very important step forward—for Detroit today and for future generations.
Leaders like Michigan Governor Snyder, Detroit Mayor Bing, U.S. Senator Carl Levin, and Congressman John Dingell understand that although Detroit is the Motor City, it nonetheless needs better public transportation.
We look forward to continuing to work with area leaders who have the vision and commitment to make Detroit a model for livability and progress.