DETROIT – The federal government committed $25 million Friday to build a streetcar line through the heart of Detroit, putting in place the last piece of a plan bringing light rail to one of the few urban centers still without it.
The rest of the $140 million tab for the 3.3-mile streetcar line along Woodward Avenue will be paid for by a public-private partnership with sizable donations coming from companies whose workers are commuting from revitalized neighborhoods to offices downtown. It remains unclear, however, whether the cash-strapped city will ever be able to extend the line into the poorest neighborhoods where better mass transportation is desperately needed.
Leaders have long said public transportation must improve for Detroit to grow. Light rail along Woodward, the primary business and commercial corridor, has been discussed for years, but hasn’t been a priority in a city struggling with debt, violence and population loss.
There have been 24 failed attempts over the past 40 years to develop a modern public transit system in Detroit, Gov. Rick Snyder noted at a news conference. We’re the only place that didn’t have this, he said.
Ex-mayor Nagin hit in corruption probe
More than a decade ago, Ray Nagin was elected mayor of New Orleans on a vow to root out corruption in a city plagued by decades of it. On Friday, the former mayor was indicted on charges he lined his pockets with bribes, payoffs and gratuities while the chronically poor city struggled to recover from Hurricane Katrina’s punishing blow.
The federal indictment alleges that city contractors paid Nagin more than $200,000 in bribes and subsidized his trips to Hawaii, Jamaica and other places in exchange for his help securing millions of dollars in work for the city.
The charges against Nagin are the product of a city corruption investigation that already has yielded guilty pleas by two former city officials and two businessmen and a prison sentence for a former city vendor.
Pioneering black ’Bama student dies
One of the first black students who enrolled at the University of Alabama a half-century ago in defiance of racial segregation has died. James Hood of Gadsden, Ga., was 70.
Officials at Adams-Buggs Funeral Home in Gadsden said they are handling arrangements for Hood, who died Thursday.
Then-Alabama Gov. George Wallace made his infamous stand in the schoolhouse door in a failed effort to prevent Hood and Vivian Malone from registering for classes at the university in 1963.
Hood and Malone were accompanied by Deputy U.S. Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach when they were confronted by Wallace as they tried to enter the university’s Foster Auditorium to register for classes and pay fees.
Wallace backed down later that day and Hood and Malone registered for classes.
Lottery winner’s body exhumed
Authorities on Friday exhumed the body of a Chicago man who was poisoned with cyanide after winning the lottery and conducted an autopsy in the hopes that it will help solve the mystery surrounding his death.
The body of Urooj Khan was exhumed from a cemetery Friday and placed in a black hearse, which was escorted by four police cars to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Pathologists collected samples of hair, nails and most major body organs, as well as stomach contents, Medical Examiner Stephen Cina said. Tests might determine whether he swallowed, inhaled or was injected with the poison, Cina said.
Khan, 46, died in July as he was about to collect $425,000 in lottery winnings. His death initially was ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative whose identity remains a mystery asked for further tests that revealed in November that he had been poisoned.