DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) – Detroit businesswoman Denise Ilitch, of Ambassador Magazine, is throwing her support behind the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail project.

“It’s official, it’s economical, it’s fast. I mean…  what’s the knock on light rail? What’s wrong with it?” Ilitch asked Friday on Charlie Langton’s morning show on Talk Radio 1270.

Also joining the program Friday morning was Cindy Goodaker of Crain’s Detroit Business, who agreed.

“I think it’s really interesting because the knock on Detroit for a long time was not enough participation by the business community. And, so here you have a project where you have a lot of private money behind it.

“So, it’s really how can we figure out how to get this done, you know? What’s the right way to get this done,” Goodaker said.

According to Langton, the estimated cost for the project is about $137 million for 3.3 miles.

Is that simply too expensive in a struggling city?

“I think that it will translate into dollars and you will recoup your investment because of the growth in the city,” said Ilitch. “You’ll be able to move people around more and improve the economy. So, I think in the long run it will pay for itself.

“I’m not an expert in the area, but I would like to think that within a 10 to 15-year period we would be able to really grow the community and spur on more activity,” she said.

Goodaker said there’s a lot to consider when looking at a project like this, including who will pay to operate the rail — whether it be government or a millage —  since fares would not cover it.

She said it can be tough to measure the economic impact of such systems, but it has potential.

Both Ilitch and Goodaker said they would support the formation of a Regional Transportation Authority, which has been discussed.

Also talked about in Friday’s interview: Has the business community reached a new critical mass in Detroit? And Ilitch talked about  President Barack Obama’s recent visit to her home.


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