M-1 leader exudes confidence Woodward streetcar plan will happen

Momentum appears to be building for the M-1 Rail proposal that would bring a streetcar line to Woodward Avenue in the greater downtown Detroit area.

Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail, bubbled with confidence about the project while speaking to a group of young people at the presentation of [de-fine] Detroit competition last week. To him, M-1 Rail is a matter of when, and he expects to get the green light for it soon.

"M-1 Rail is going to happen," Cullen says. "We're going to get that done."

This coincides with a number of other reports in local media that the proposed streetcar line is close getting federal approval. The Detroit News reported earlier this month that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood expects to a very good announcement regarding funding the project soon. Other local news reports have a regional transportation authority to run the streetcar line also in the offing.

A number of local corporate and philanthropic leaders have come together to raise more than $100 million to fund the 3-mile streetcar line. The proposal calls for building a light rail system along Woodward Avenue between Jefferson Avenue and Grand Boulevard. The privately raised money will act as the local match to leverage public funds from the federal government for the streetcar line and a regional bus rapid transit system.

M-1 Rail has been several years in the making and has come close to breaking ground a few times in recent years before suffering minor setbacks. Cullen believes those setbacks are behind the project and M-1 Rail's efforts is close to coming to fruition.

"You would have thought it would easier to hand somebody a $125 million check," Cullen says.

Source: Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail
Writer: Jon Zemke

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