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E-M:/ A Clarification




It was correctly pointed out to me that the $18 million price tag for the
proposed DIFT 
mentioned in the communications below is for studying and developing the
project. 
 If the project actually happens, the state and federal governments would 
probably spend over $200 million of taxpayers money on the project to 
primarily benefit industry.  MDOT Tech Report No. 3 says $167 to $176.2 
million in year 2000 adjusted dollars.
--david holtz



> A Tough NAFTA Lesson For Detroiters Takes Place In A Crowded Union Hall
> 
> On Thursday, while the U.S. House of Representatives was voting 215-214 to
> give expanded fast-track trade powers to the president, Michigan
> transportation officials we're delivering a tough lesson on free trade to
> an angry overflow crowd of southwest Detroit residents assembled at a
> union hall.  Living in the shadow of the U.S.-Canada Ambassador Bridge,
> local residents have seen their neighborhoods nibbled away by an expanding
> bridge footprint and choked by much of the 300-400 percent increase in
> truck traffic since NAFTA went into effect.
> 
> Now the Michigan Department of Transportation wants to demolish dozens of
> homes and businesses and bring an additional 16,000 trucks to southwest
> Detroit by nearly doubling the size of a freight terminal in the heart of
> this largely Hispanic community.  And transportation officials are warning
> local residents that unless they welcome the $18-million project they
> should expect no help from the government in fixing roads, bridges and
> other infrastructure in their community that is crumbling under the weight
> of NAFTA-fed truck commerce.  
> 
> MDOT's message of "cooperation", however, was not getting through to the
> estimated 600 residents who came to UAW Local 227 on Lonyo Street for a
> public hearing held by the Detroit City Planning Commission.  
> 
> Ticking off a long list of health, noise, and safety problems from
> thousands of diesel trucks MDOT's project would bring to their
> neighborhoods, residents rejected MDOT's offer of road and bridge
> improvements in exchange for the proposed 850-acre Detroit Intermodal
> Freight Terminal (DIFT).   "I don't like to be blackmailed," one woman
> told planning officials.  "We don't have to live with the noise, the dirt
> and the ugliness." 
> 
> A scaled-down version of the DIFT proposed by some residents, that would
> improve but not expand an existing freight terminal owned by two U.S.
> firms, is meeting resistance from MDOT.  The agency insists that any
> federal funding for freight improvements must benefit all four railroad
> companies operating in Detroit--including those from Canada. Only an
> expanded, publicly funded freight terminal would allow Canadian companies
> to benefit. If MDOT's position on funding is correct, taxpayers in
> southwest Detroit and elsewhere may one day be subsidizing Canadian
> industrialists for polluting Detroiters' air, clogging their streets,
> condemning their homes and business, and fragmenting their community.
> 
> Thursday's hearing was the second attempt by Detroit officials at hearing
> from local residents on the proposed DIFT.  In November, at a smaller
> venue, the hearing never got off the ground because turnout was so large. 
> 
> Karen Kavanaugh, speaking for the local DIFT opposition group, Communities
> For A Better Rail Alternative, told planning officials Thursday that any
> project to improve freight facilities in southwest Detroit must reduce air
> pollution and truck traffic and protect the local environment or it will
> be rejected by the community.  Kavanaugh, who works for a local business
> group, said MDOT has failed to provide evidence that the DIFT would even
> work as planned. She criticized the agency for failing to consider the
> cumulative effects on the community of several current proposals that
> would expand or build new bridge capacity, widen I-94, and construct the
> massive new freight terminal along seven miles through Detroit and
> Dearborn.  "The growth of truck transportation should not go unchecked,"
> said Kavanaugh.  "We are, and continue to be, a thriving community."
> 
> The proposed freight terminal expansion would be constructed with $18
> million earmarked by Congress in 1998 at the request of U.S. Rep. Carolyn
> Cheeks Kilpatrick, a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
> Kilpatrick's district includes southwest Detroit. Her son, state Rep.
> Kwame Kilpatrick, will become Detroit's next mayor in January.
> Congresswoman Kilpatrick's office has promised local residents she will
> not support the project unless the local community endorses it, which
> seems unlikely. However, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer has championed the
> proposed DIFT.  And as yet, there's no word from Mayor-elect Kilpatrick on
> how he feels about the DIFT.  
> 
> A link to a story on the DIFT in today's Detroit Free Press:
> http://www.freep.com/news/locway/term7_20011207.htm
> 
> David Holtz
> Environmental Media Coordinator
> 313.640.9943
> 313.300.4454 cell
> david.holtz@sierraclub.org
>  
> 

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