Detroit Mayor Dave Bing announced Monday that the federal government is expected to conduct an environmental impact study before construction can begin on a $450 to $500 million Woodward Avenue light rail.

The U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said they will be beginning a major environmental test required to move the plan forward.  The study will take a year to 18 months to complete and is needed if federal matching funds are used.

“This past Friday a notice of intent was published under federal register to prepare an environmental impact statement for a light rail line on Woodward Avenue extending 9.3 miles, from downtown to 8 Mile Road,” Bing said Monday.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said their building on the storied tradition of Motor City innovation.

“We’re taking another step forward toward a state of the art Woodward Avenue light rail line,” LaHood said.

“For DOT’s [Department of Transportation] part, we’ve been working with the city and state officials to identify the right resources of funding, and pilot the right course of legislative action in Congress,” LaHood said.

The nine-mile passenger line is seen as a long-term solution to boost the area’s economic future.  “For Highland Park we have 31 percent unemployment, so that means most of our folks don’t have transportation,” said Hubert Yobb, Mayor of Highland Park.

This is what we need for unemployment for development, Yobb said.

About $125 million in private and public funds have been raised for the 3.4-mile first phase from downtown to West Grand Boulevard.

Phase two would be completed by 2016 and link Grand Boulevard up to 8 Mile Road.

Construction of the light rail line could begin as early as next year.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this story.

  1. Mike says:

    Just got back from Japan where Rail is King. Hopefully this plan is wise enough to have room for future development, like a station at 8 mile where riders could transfer to an 8 mile line and one in downtown where passengers could transfer to a high speed link to other cities. Hopefully this is not just an overblown trolley. And perhaps Detroit needs to stop playing us against them with the suburbs and encourage Oakland County to continue the line to Pontiac. How would riders get to Tiger Stadium, Ford Field, Cobo, and Joe Lewis, as well as the major employers in downtown. Why do I fear this will just be another people mover. Good luck Detroit

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