WOODHAVEN (WWJ) – The city of Woodhaven has applied for a $15 million federal grant that could end one of Downriver’s most notorious traffic snags: The frequent train delays that block Allen Road near Van Horn Road.
Woodhaven Mayor Patricia Odette said she and thousands of other residents are fed up with the road being blocked for hours by standing trains. It’s a problem the community has been dealing with for decades.
“We were able to function with it when there was a time limit on the trains blocking the crossing, but several years ago that got thrown out and now trains can block a crossing for up to six to eight hours,” Odette told WWJ’s Rob Mason. “So now, it has gotten impossible for us to deal with any longer.”
City planners have created a solution for their train troubles, but a very large number is standing in the way.
“We’ve been trying for a long time to put an underpass in at the corner of the Allen and Van Horn intersection, and unfortunately that price tag is $30 million,” Odette said. “So, we are currently applying for a $15 million TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant.”
The city’s grant application is currently on the desk of U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, where it could end up sitting for some time.
“We’ve applied for this grant before and we’ve been turned down,” Odette said. “Last time we did not get a letter of support from the railroad. This time we did. We’ve also gotten letters of support from all our surrounding communities for the grant. I think Ford has supported it, Chrysler has supported it, and the hospital.”
Odette said the matter needs to be addressed immediately, and she’s calling on citizens to help carry out her mission.
“We’re trying to get everybody to sign an online petition, everybody affected — which is just about everybody who lives in the Downriver area,” she said. “Please, contact your state senator, your legislators, and sign the petition going around. It could mean somebody’s life or death if we do not get this pass put in.”
The city already has millions of dollars waiting to be used for this project and if the grant gets approved quickly, the whole thing could get underway by the end of the summer.
“We’re trying to get money from the governor’s office… and they are saying we could possibly get $5 million from them. Congressmen Dingell set aside $10 million a few years back that’s still earmarked for the project. The county, I believe, is on the hook for 10 percent, which is $3 million, and the railroad is five percent, which is $1.5 million,” Odette said. “So, if we could get everybody to come together, we could possibly get this $30 million within the next three months.”
As of Wednesday morning, the petition on change.org had over 1,000 signatures. To sign the petition, click here.