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E-M:/ Detroit Intermodal Terminal & National Defense

Enviro-Mich message from "Savoie, Kathryn" <KSavoie@accesscommunity.org>

For immediate release
Wednesday, April 30, 2003

More information: 	Kathryn Savoie, 216-2225
			Karen Kavanaugh, 842-0986 x26

Is MDOT Preparing For War?
Agency claims Detroit terminal will "project US military abroad"

Community leaders responded today with surprise to a new suggestion by the
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) that its controversial proposed
900-acre truck-rail freight terminal for southwest Detroit may be used for

In a newly revised "Updated Purpose and Need" document required for the
proposed Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal (DIFT), MDOT says the
decade-old project is now needed because "National defense mobilization and
deployment is (sic) increasingly reliant on intermodal connectors to project
US military power abroad to meet the challenges of regional conflicts. . .
Our nation's military goes to war on rails."

Although MDOT has been studying the proposed DIFT since the mid-1980s, the
agency has never before mention national defense as a purpose for the
project, focusing instead on the need to reduce auto industry freight
transportation costs.  

"This is a great surprise and is, frankly, puzzling," said Karen Kavanuagh,
co-Chair of Communities for a Better Rail Alternative (CBRA), a coalition
formed in response to the proposed DIFT.  "In the past, MDOT has said that
this project is about improving freight transportation efficiencies for
business and industry in southeastern Michigan.  Now they claim the DIFT is
needed for military campaigns abroad.  Why is it that only just now is it
being discovered that the DIFT is somehow critical to our national defense?

Community members have raised many questions about the purpose and need for
the project, which would expand the 300-acre Junction Yard to 900 acres,
taking 90 businesses and 90 housing units to accommodate an eight-fold
increase in daily truck movements, and associated container parking. 

The Detroit City Planning Commission has also questioned whether the
proposed DIFT was economically viable, noting that MDOT is relying on a
9-year old study for its proposal. The Planning Commission's 2002 report on
the DIFT states that MDOT's consultants have failed to document the current
need for additional land beyond the existing Junction Yard rail facility in
southwest Detroit.  The planning report went on to say that the goal of
MDOT's project-to accommodate present and future regional truck and rail
freight-is not backed up by data and the realities of railroad ownership as
it exists today.  

"It's sad that MDOT would exploit the real need for national defense in
support of a project that has failed to win support based on its own merits.
If their economic arguments were compelling, they wouldn't have to pull this
out of their hat," said Kathryn Savoie, also a co-chair of CBRA.

CBRA members are still assessing other new projections made by in the
"Updated Purpose and Need" document, issued by MDOT as part of their Detroit
Intermodal Freight Terminal Project Environmental Impact Statement.

CBRA is proposing that MDOT make improvements to the existing 300-acre
Junction Yard as well as upgrades to local streets already impacted by heavy
truck traffic.  CBRA opposes any expansion of the truck and freight facility
that will degrade local residential areas and businesses.


Kathryn Savoie, Ph.D.
Environmental Program Director

6450 Maple Street
Dearborn MI  48126
(313) 216-2225
ksavoie@accesscommunity.org <mailto:ksavoie@accesscommunity.org> 

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