M-1 Streetcar in downtown Detroit. Photo via The Architects Newspaper.
We’ve written before about the M-1 RAIL project and how it is expected to support economic development along Woodward Avenue. The good news is that the City’s ongoing financial troubles are not expected to impact the project’s progress.
M-1′s budget is separate from the City’s general revenue stream, which is part of why project leaders hope Detroit’s bankruptcy will not affect the project. In addition, the project is leveraging public funding to generate private investment. $9 million of M-1′s funding comes from the Downtown Development Authority, and the project received a $25 million TIGER grant from the U.S Department of Transportation (DOT) and $16 million in New Market Tax Credits. That public funding is leveraging over $100 million in private investments, including $3 million each from the Ford Foundation, Kellogg Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Detroit Medical Center, as well as $35.1 million from the Kresge Foundation.
“This isn’t something that has been done before. The courage our leaders have exhibited to get this done is incredible,” said Heather Carmona of M-1 RAIL in a statement.
News of the incoming streetcar has encouraged new businesses and residential buildings to establish themselves in the downtown area.
“When the rail comes in, we expect the demand for rail transit to go way up,” says Sue Mosey, an M-1 RAIL board member. “For a lot of the young professionals coming in here, rail is a big thing. It’s a core thing they’re looking for in a city.” Alternative transportation in Detroit will provide much-needed options for residents to get to work, school or shops; spur development along transit lines; and help the city reemerge as a vital economic center.
DOT’s TIGER program is part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, a collaboration between DOT, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Partnership works with communities to create more housing and transportation choices, and support neighborhoods’ sustained vibrancy by attracting new business.
Congress is considering funding for these and other important development programs this week. If you support projects like the M-1 RAIL line, ask Congress to continue to fund these vital programs.