DETROIT — The US government plans to spend $25 million on a light-rail system through the heart of Detroit, a development federal, state, and local leaders said Friday will finally allow the city to join the many other major urban centers that have had mass transit operations for decades.
‘‘We’re the only place that didn’t have this,’’ Governor Rick Snyder said at a morning news event, adding that 24 attempts have been made over the past 40 years to develop a modern public transit system in Detroit.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the government is awarding $25 million toward the $140 million M-1 Rail project, which would consist of a 3.3-mile streetcar line along Woodward Avenue, linking the city’s downtown and the cultural, medical, and educational center a few miles north.
Leaders long have said that for Detroit to grow, public transportation must improve.
Light rail along Woodward, the city’s primary business and commercial corridor, has been discussed for years, but some say it has become a necessity with recent moves of thousands of jobs downtown by Quicken Loans and other employers.
Detroit’s current public transportation offerings include a problem-plagued public bus system and the extremely limited People Mover elevated rail. Buses often break down, leaving riders waiting an hour or more to be picked up at stops across the city.