Woodward light rail line group says it will pay for first 10 years of operations

Posted on April 23, 2012

The private-sector group that wants to build a 3-mile light rail line on Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to the New Center said today it has raised all of the money it will need to build the line – and is pledging to fund the operations of the system privately for the first 10 years after it’s built.

The M-1 Rail Group outlined the details in a report it has sent to the federal government. The group of private investors and philanthropic groups behind the effort said they would commit to paying the estimated $5.1 million cost of operating the Woodward rail line through 2025.

The group would then donate the project’s assets to the appropriate agency, such as a regional transit authority that Gov. Rick Snyder and the state Legislature are working to create for southeast Michigan.

The project would still require nearly $40 million in federal fundingthat M-1 Rail said the feds have already committed for construction of the rail line. But how to pay for operating the system has been a key point of contention in a city that’s now under a consent deal with the state to oversee its finances and plans to slash millions from its annual appropriations for the city’s bus system.

By Matt Helms, Detroit Free Press