A $2 million federal grant originally aimed at studying how a Detroit light rail project could be extended to Birmingham has been expanded in scope to cover transit options for the entire 27 miles of Woodward Avenue.
The money now will pay for an examination of the Woodward corridor from the Detroit River to downtown Pontiac, the nonprofit Woodward Avenue Action Association said in a statement today.
The shift comes in the wake of the $528 million, 9.3-mile Detroit light rail plan being scrapped in December in favor of a regional high-speed bus system proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder with backing from Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and the federal government.
The light rail project, now entirely in the hands of a private investment consortium, would run from just Hart Plaza to New Center.
The Federal Transit Administration awarded the $2 million alternative analysis grant for the suburban extension study to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments regional planning agency in mid-October.
SEMCOG is managing the money for the Central Woodward Corridor Alternative Analysis Steering Committee, which is made up of six Oakland County cities, SEMCOG and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The committee’s intent is to study improving transit along Woodward, which is expected to boost economic development.
Detroit, Highland Park, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township and Pontiac have been invited to join the group.
The steering committee is working on the study with the Michigan Suburbs Alliance; Wayne State University, which plans to contribute researchers to the project; and the Woodward association.
The corridor analysis is expected to begin in the spring. Public opinions will be sought, the association said.
By Bill Shea, Crain’s Detroit