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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation
Federal bill provision will help advance Detroit's light-rail project, Sen. Levin says

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) announced the Senate approved a bill including his provision, which will help advance a proposed light-rail line along Detroit’s Woodward Avenue Corridor. President Obama signed the bill later that day.

Levin’s provision was included in H.R. 2112, which includes fiscal-year 2012 appropriations for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, as well as a continuing resolution to continue operations in other departments through Dec. 16.

The provision will enable the city of Detroit to receive federal funding under a program designed to help local governments advance major transit projects, Levin said in a prepared statement. The program enables local sources of funding, including private funds, to be used for the first phase of a project, while clearing the way for federal funding of a second phase, he said.

The first phase of the proposed Woodward Avenue light-rail project calls for building a 3.4-mile line connecting downtown Detroit to the New Center district along the region’s main artery. The provision will allow private investment in the first phase to be counted toward the local match requirement in the second phase, which is critical to advancing the project, said Levin.

A separate provision also championed by Levin keeps the more favorable local funding match at 40 percent instead of the House version of the bill, which raised the local match requirement to 50 percent. Project organizers claimed the 50 percent match requirement could have threatened the project, Levin said.

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