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Riding the rails: Millions at stake for Detroit's taxpayer-backed transit experiment


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?intcmp=latestnewsFox News:

WASHINGTON – There's a lot riding on Detroit’s new transit system.


After seven years of planning, work on the ambitious $140 million light rail project started this week amid charges that it already is an antiquated and ‘expensive boondoggle’ that fails to benefit the city’s low-income residents.


Still, city officials are hopeful that the 3.3-mile project connecting the city’s primary job center with key cultural and entertainment hubs will be an economic boon for Detroit which has been battered by fiscal decay and the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.


The M-1 Rail will eventually connect three neighborhoods and stretch from the city’s north end to the south. After several starts and stops, the project, already $12 million over budget, is expected to be operational by late 2016.


Concerns remain about the project's price tag, particularly in a city that struggles to provide basic services, and whether it can really attract a steady stream of passengers in a place where parking is abundant. The Motor City, after all, loves its cars. The project is partly propped up by federal taxpayers.


The line, though, is set to launch around the time the new $650 million Detroit Red Wings arena, as well as other downtown businesses and entertainment hot spots, are scheduled to open their doors. The goal for the Motor City is simple: make Detroit as attractive and accessible as possible to residents and visitors in the hope it will jump-start the local economy.


The project would be Detroit’s first streetcar line since its transit system was dismantled in the 1950s. It’s projected to create about 2,000 new jobs. The M-1 Rail – a curbside loop powered mostly by overhead electrical lines – is expected to carry 6,000 passengers per day, serving 12 stops.



Who's up for another Detroit boondoggle?


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