M-1 Rail going ahead despite $12M funding gap, CEO says [Detroit Free Press :: ]
(Detroit Free Press (MI) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 18--The M-1 Rail project's top executive said today the streetcar line will indeed break ground and start construction soon despite a newly revealed $12-million funding gap that the project hopes to plug with a new federal transportation grant.
Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, told the Free Press that the board of the project met June 6 and decided to go ahead anyway with groundbreaking this summer despite the latest snag in financing for the roughly $140 million project.
In a May 1 letter jointly signed by Michigan U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and other congressional leaders to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the leaders said M-1 Rail might be "delayed indefinitely" unless the government approved a $12.2-million so-called TIGER transportation grant.
Cullen said the project leaders expect the TIGER grant to be approved, and if it is not, the project can go ahead by shifting future operating funds into the construction budget and then raise more operating funds in the future. Another option is to buy one fewer passenger cars to save money.
"It's not going to stop us from building it and it won't stop us from have the resources necessary to operate it," Cullen said. M-1 has overcome previous challenges, he added, "and if that's the hand we're dealt then we'll deal with that one."
M-1 Rail is planned as an approximately 3-mile streetcar line running up Woodward Avenue from Jefferson Avenue to New Center, with about a dozen stops along the route. If groundbreaking takes place this summer as promised, the line could be running by late 2016.
Contact John Gallagher at 313-222-5173 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jgallagherfreep.
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