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E-M:/ MDOT Terminal Project Targets More Detroit Homes

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from David Holtz ------------------------------------------------------------------------- News Release                                                                                             More information:
For Immediate Release                                                                                                                              Kathryn Savoie
Wednesday, February 25, 2003                                                                                                                           313-216-2225
                    `                                                                                                                                                             Karen Kavanuagh

More Detroit homes, businesses targeted by MDOT
 Latest ‘bigger’ terminal proposal increases condemnations, sparks more opposition

Community leaders today rejected plans unveiled this week by state transportation officials to increase the size of  a proposed intermodal freight terminal in southwest Detroit. MDOT says the increase would result in  additional homes and businesses being lost in southwest Detroit beyond the 152 already being proposed for potential condemnation.

“MDOT is moving in the wrong direction,” said Kathryn Savoie, co-chair of Communities for a Better Rail Alternative coalition.  “We have said all along that loss of homes and businesses is unacceptable.  Our neighborhoods are growing, and we have real transportation needs that need to be addressed.  Our tax dollars should not be used to undermine our growth and destroy our neighborhoods.”

Among the proposals being studied by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is the option of consolidating the region’s intermodal freight activity in Junction yard in southwest Detroit and southeast Dearborn.   MDOT announced this week that they have increased the size of their proposed facility to 895 acres.  Previously, MDOT had proposed an 840 acre facility, and estimated that 80 homes and 72 businesses would be lost as a result.   

Residents in the area are opposing the agency’s controversial proposal to build the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal (DIFT) within a largely residential area. Communities for a Better Rail Alternative coalition (CBRA) has opposed any expansion of the 300-acre rail yard and the loss of homes and businesses. MDOT has not yet estimated the numbers of additional homes and businesses that would be lost with the increased footprint.

Southwest Detroit neighborhoods increased in population by 6% between the 1990 and 2000 Census while the City of Detroit decreased in population by 7.5 % during the same period, according to a 2001 study of the proposed DIFT by the Detroit City Planning Commission.

“It seems telling that the extra space is being devoted to storage of containers and trailers, said Martha Gruelle, Executive Director of Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision.  “That seems like a very low value use for land that has been devoted to occupied homes and productive businesses.”

In addition to studying consolidation of intermodal activity in Junction Yard in Southwest Detroit, MDOT is also studying a new proposal that would spread intermodal activity out among four rail and freight sites in Detroit, including Junction Yard in Southwest Detroit, and another along 8 Mile Road near I-75  in Ferndale.  Rail sites near Michigan Central Depot in Corktown and near I-96 and the Southfield Freeway in Detroit are also included in the proposal the agency has designated Alternative #2.    

The combined four rail and freight sites in Alternative #2 will be studied as a single project and evaluated against the impacts of building the entire 895-acre DIFT in southwest Detroit, MDOT said.  


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