(Detroit) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood finally gave his decision on the $25 million in grant money for the Woodward light rail project. He decided against allocating the grant money, but mentioned that he would reconsider if certain conditions were met in the future.
Ray LaHood notified Governor Snyder, Mayor Bing and the business leaders involved in the M1 Rail Project that despite his reluctance to allocate the grant money to the project, that he would set aside the money with the assumption that the necessary conditions for approval would in fact be met at some point in the near future.
The key difference at this point involve the need for an regional transportation authority to run the rail system and that it have enough funding and reserves to cover operational costs.
This may sound like bad news, but all involved insist that it was expected, and that it provides a very clear picture of exactly what is needed to get this proposal done and approved.
The original grant was part of the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program, although LaHood mentioned that despite his refusal to allocate the grant money at this time, that if his concerns are addressed by late August, he has set aside $25 million in other funds that can be used for the project.
According to Clark Harder, executive director of the Michigan Public Transit Association, “the major sticking point is they can’t show on paper where the money is going to come from to operate the regional system,” he said. “They need a clear, written plan to show them where the money is going to come from in the long run, and so far they just haven’t had that.”
Whether or not the M1 leaders are able to provide that by the August deadline is unknown but so far all parties seem hopeful.