That’s what Norman White, the city’s chief financial officer said today after a City Council hearing.
“Our goal is to have an operating system and be operating the entire system by 2015,” he told Metro Times.
The Detroit Department of Transportation is overseeing the light rail project. A group of private investors known as the M1 corporation has also been involved in planning the line. The group — led by Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert and Matt Cullen, executives of the Penske Corp., Quicken Loans and Rock Financial — respectively, and has pledged about $125 million toward the rail project.
Those funds, along with a $25 million federal grant awarded to the Michigan Department of Transportation last year and given to the city, were to have funded the first of two planned phases of construction of the rail line from Jefferson to East Grand Boulevard. Until White’s comments today, city and federal officials have said that first phase would see construction beginning this year with riders on board in 2013.
Meanwhile, city officials have been seeking funds from the Federal Transportation Administration and some kind of local match to fund the rest of the roughly $450 million line. That would complete a 9.3-mile route to the city’s northern edge.
In a request to city council last week, Mayor Dave Bing requested bonds totaling up to $125 million be issued to pay for the city’s share. Some of that money would also fund some of DDOT’s other capital needs, like buses, White said. Federal monies, while not guaranteed, he says, are expected to fund the rest of the project.
White said that in discussions with federal transportation officials, it has been determined that the project should be constructed in a single phase instead of the two that had been planned.
The main reason was because the permanent maintenance facility for the trains is planned north of Grand Boulevard. Constructing a temporary one south of there for the first phase would have been wasted money, he says.
“It’s in everyone’s interest,” he says.