Detroit (Woodward Corridor)

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Woodward Corridor

Detroit, Michigan

(November 1996)


The Woodward Corridor extends for a distance of about 14 miles northwest from the Detroit CBD. Portions of the corridor are within the Federally designated Empowerment Zone. The area has been advanced as a possible light rail corridor with the possibility of a busway as an interim alternative. There is no current cost estimate or ridership forecast. In the early 1980s, when planning for this proposal was suspended, a Light Rail Transit (LRT) project for the corridor had a construction cost estimate of $1.4 billion.


Section 3035(m) of ISTEA directed FTA to enter into a multiyear agreement with the City of Detroit for not less than $20 million for the completion of alternatives analysis and preliminary engineering for a light rail project. This corridor has been identified by the City of Detroit to be the Woodward Corridor. Through FY 1997, Congress has appropriated $10 million for these studies; however, $9.78 million has been reprogrammed or rescinded. The remainder, $.22 million has been obligated.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, Detroit conducted alternatives analysis and nearly completed preliminary engineering (PE) for LRT in the Woodward Corridor. The project became inactive in 1985 due to a lack of funding. In June 1995, the metropolitan Detroit tri-counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb passed the first county-wide dedicated funding initiative to support suburban transit services. The City of Detroit continues to subsidize public transit through its General Fund contributions averaging approximately $27.0 million in recent years.

Detroit has applied for a grant to review the previous alternatives analysis and PE and to prepare a work scope for necessary updates. Local reviews of literature focusing on busways have resulted in the consideration of busways as an interim transit mode due to cost and flexibility. Additional analysis of capital and operating perspectives will be conducted.

The City of Detroit has recently received favorable funding action by the State of Michigan in support of a new sports/entertainment stadium complex in the Woodward corridor. The City of Detroit and private sector representatives have announced agreement to construct the new sports/entertainment complex. The development of this project and the continued growth of the adjacent theatre district and housing is expected to generate significant job growth, economic development and transportation needs for the near future.

As a result of these new conditions, much of the information developed in the earlier studies will need to be modified to include busway analysis as an alternative interim proposal when project planning is resumed.