Requiem for Woodward rail

Wow.

A sample of early reactions:

Early reaction

I can understand Megan Owens’ reaction, since the ‘six years of work’ she refers to are, in large part, hers.  And I certainly won’t dispute her characterization of the mayor as  ‘a moron,’ since he’s proven it over and over again more or less since his first day in office (but that’s a topic for another post).

But as readers of this blog may recall, I’m not terribly surprised by this news given that Detroit as an independent political and fiscal entity will likely not exist in its current form within six months.  Nor does it necessarily entail a worse long-term outcome for metro Detroit’s transit riders, especially the vast majority that do not live or work along Woodward south of 8 Mile.  The governor has made it clear that his vision for a new regional transit system centers on bus rapid transit, and that vision, along with the loss of control over its own finances the city will shortly face, was the controlling factor here.

If light rail does eventually come to Michigan, it will makes its debut in one of three places:  1) Ann Arbor (between UM’s North & Central Campuses), 2) the Woodward corridor in southeast Oakland County, or 3) Grand Rapids.

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4 responses to “Requiem for Woodward rail

  1. Pingback: Detroit’s Woodward Light Rail Torpedoed « Cynical Synapse

  2. I am also not terribly surprised by the news, but I am pretty disappointed by the language being thrown around. I think “dead”, “cancelled”, etc. are unnecessarily final terms to be using. “Shelved” or “tabled” would probably be more appropriate, if less sensational, headlines. Just because it’s not financially doable now doesn’t mean we don’t have the major procedural hurdles cleared. Just because we can’t construct something within 6 months of finishing the EIS doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. (Heck, the EIS for widening I-94 to 4 lanes through Detroit was done in 2001, and that project is still described as “planned” rather than “dead”, despite the fact that it’s been postponed indefinitely for lack of funding.)

    I don’t think it’s likely that light rail–or any fixed guideway transit system–could debut in southern Oakland County without extending to downtown Detroit. The single largest commute movement from the southern Oakland County Woodward corridor is into downtown/New Center, and while there’s also a decent amount of intra-corridor commuting within the Oakland County segment itself, I’m going to guess that ridership projections would be lower for that segment as a standalone system than for the Detroit piece as a standalone.

    I will bet five Canadian dollars that the first light rail system in Michigan will still be on the Woodward corridor within Detroit. (Not necessarily exclusively within Detroit–Detroit and Oakland County would also be an option.) It might not happen until after we’ve established a BRT system and decide that ridership and economic development potential justifies an upgrade, but I still think it’s the most likely option.

  3. So they’ll just sit on the money and hold it for us? Federal funding works that way? Help me out, Murph.

  4. FTA has already said the $25 million TIGER grant can be moved from WWLRT to a bus rapid transit system. The Feds had not yet awarded any New Starts money–Detroit had yet to propose an operational funding plan that FTA would sign off on–so there wasn’t any solid money there yet to be sat upon.

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