DETROIT -

Detroit's long-planned transit project received a $25 million dollar boost Friday when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the multi-million dollar transit grant at a press conference at Wayne State University.

The money will be used to help build a 3.3 mile-long streetcar line along Woodward Avenue. The system would connect businesses from the riverfront to New Center. Upon completion, it would make eleven stops up and down Woodward, servicing patrons from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m. The streetcars would travel at approximately 12 mph - making it a 16 minute one-way trip.

The streetcar line is expected to include 11 stations, with connections to Campus Martius, Comerica Park, the Detroit Medical Center area and Wayne State University. The entire project is expected to cost a total of $137 million.

Woodward Light Rail Project Diagram

--Artist rendering of the streetcar project

"We love this project.  But in order to take care of the people, the hardworking people who can’t afford a car or money for a gallon gasoline – this is for you.  That’s what this celebration is about," LaHood said.

LaHood also said that $6.5 million in Federal Transit Administration planning funds will help Michigan develop a bus rapid transit network to expand transit options, connecting downtown Detroit with its suburbs and key destinations in the region.

Also on hand for the announcement were Governor Rick Snyder, Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman John Dingell, Congressman John Conyers, Congressman Gary Peters, Congressman Sander Levin, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Officials from the M1 Rail Corporation and Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff.

On the announcement Governor Snyder said, "This has taken 40 years and is our 24th attempt -let's get this thing going!"

M-1 Rail officials say construction could begin as early as this summer, with the rail line in operation by late 2015.

"By securing over $30 million federal dollars for the M1 project and a bus rapid transit system, we are making an investment to build a brighter future for our region," said U.S. Rep. Gary Peters. "Regional transit means new economic development opportunities in our communities, new jobs for our workers and a new hope for a stronger Greater Detroit region."

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