Creating jobs and economic growth: Detroit's Woodward light rail line moves forward

The Woodward light rail project, now under way in Detroit, will give residents better ways to get around and support the city’s business districts at the same time.

First discussed by the Detroit Department of Transportation in 2006, the light rail line will run from Detroit’s Hart Plaza to the city limits at Eight Mile Road, connecting several neighborhoods to one another along the way. The project is a partnership between public agencies and Detroit’s business community, and construction on the project is projected to begin this year.

The Woodward line passed a major milestone this week, as the Federal Transit Administration announced its support for the city’s assessment of the environmental impact of the proposed rail line. This is good news for the project, but it still faces several major hurdles.

The city will need to win more than $300 million in federal grants in the coming years to complete the line. While this is no small price tag for a government looking to cut costs, such an investment could catalyze redevelopment throughout Detroit and create significant value for the city.

In recent days, President Obama has stated his support for federal investments in transportation infrastructure as a way to create jobs and restart the economy. Projects like the Woodward Light Rail line are a great example of how federal investments can do both those things, while creating new transportation choices as well.

The president is anticipated to discuss infrastructure projects tonight as part of his address to Congress on job creation. Shifting these investments toward public transit projects, as well as road repair and preservation, are efficient, cost-effective ways to create jobs in the short term and stronger local economies for years to come.

1st stage of light-rail plans OK’d [Detroit Free Press, 9/2/11]
Obama Says Jobs Plan Will Push for Infrastructure Spending [BusinessWeek, 9/5/11]
Light rail gets Obama push [Crain’s Detroit, 8/1/10]

Photo from M-1 Rail.