DETROIT (WWJ) – After years of talking, is a light rail system on Woodward Avenue in Detroit about to become a reality?

Federal transit administrator Peter Rogoff, speaking Monday with business and community leaders at Wayne State University, said he believes ground will be broken on the project within the next year, and the first phase from downtown to Eight Mile Road could be finished in two to three years.

“I think it’s gonna be a light rail system that’s going to be center-running along Woodward Avenue. It’s going to connect to the Rose Parks Transit Center downtown,” said Rogoff.

“It’s going to, initially, head out to a station at Eight Mile Road, but I think there are opportunities for it to extend even farther than that,” he said.

Rogoff acknowledged that some critics say a light rail system that stops at Eight Mile doesn’t make sense. But he disagrees.

“A lot of it is mobility around Detroit — parking once. And, perhaps, when you’re making a connection between business meetings, when you’re meeting friends for lunch, it’s about parking your car once rather than three times,” Rogoff said.

“I think, also, there are residential communities, as you get up toward Eight Mile Road, that can integrate and make this a regular commuting pattern.  I think this is a first step; I think it’s the beginning of a regional rail system. That’s not gonna happen overnight.”

Rogoff said he believes the system has the potential to create hundreds of new jobs in the area.

Does this project make sense to you? This is what some WWJ listeners are saying on Facebook:

“Governmental, financial pacification through a faux jobs program. We need new school buildings, a 15 year educational improvement plan, road expansion and general road improvement, but thanks for the offer of a rail cookie.” – Brian

“Yeah, of course! Why wouldn’t? There are cities around the world smaller than us that have better transit systems than Detroit!” – Zachary

“Biggest waste of money I can think of. If this had a reasonable chance of creating wealth or a profit without subsidies, it would be done by the private sector. Big government throwing our money away again.” – Dave

“There are a lot of other roads that could use a light rail, like Jefferson for instance, take it all the way down to Monroe. Woodward has a bus system but there is no way to get Downriver from Detroit without it taking 3 hours by bus or just driving your car. going down Woodward would not be the best use of the Federal Dollars.” – Melissa

“Hopefully it gets yanked before wasting any tax dollars – what a ridiculous pork barreled boondoggle!” – Joe

What do you think? Comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.

Comments (4)
  1. Alexander Schwallbach says:

    I have used a similar light rail system in Houston and it worked really well. I am a fundamental believer in a small government. However, public transit like public protection is something that I believe government should organize for the good of the people. Bringing the rail to eight mile is a definite milestone but it is just that. From my perspective let’s start a project, finish it, and keep going. Next stop is 696. After that head for Birmingham while going through to Pontiac.

  2. southpawcom says:

    Smartest idea among municipal planners in years. Pockets of commerce, residential, office/professional, and retail/entertainment will begin to flower at every stop. Investors, if it’s not to late, put your money down now.

  3. LugNut says:

    What a joke. Every single system like this in the country is a huge money loser and nothing but major drain on government finances. Mr. Rogoff should have both his job and department eliminated. He is a typical worthless federal bureaucrat that promotes stupid ideas. The only type of people this system is going to move are maids and restaurant workers. The really sad thing is, you could pick up these people with a Smartbus, and it would cost a fraction of what this boondogle will.

  4. Joe Lewis Jr says:

    I can imagine the connect, N the future u can combine Amtrak new ctr connection n the “D” light rail n travel from “D” Town 2 Chi-town n back……Creating job commuter n more……..WOW!!!!!!!!

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