By J. PATRICK PEPPER
DEARBORN — Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. on Tuesday unveiled $61.5 million in ready-to-go projects in anticipation of the massive stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.
In conjunction with Environment Michigan, a Dearborn-based advocacy group, O’Reilly presented a slew of projects ranging from solar panels and wind turbines to road and utility upgrades. In all, there are 57 projects that city officials said will create 150 new jobs.
Keeping form with the preliminary qualifications for stimulus money, which Obama says must create jobs, improve infrastructure and be environmentally friendly, O’Reilly highlighted seven “green” projects totaling $18 million.
In addition to the wind turbines and solar panels, which would be on the Rouge River Gateway and Henry Ford Community College respectively, there are a number of other measures that could cut the fat from the city’s energy bill.
O’Reilly wants to begin making over the city fleet, requesting money to purchase 25 hybrid vehicles. He also wants money to retrofit downtown street lights for light-emitting diode bulbs. The largest environmental component of the proposal is the creation of a “Green Zone” on the city hall campus, for which O’Reilly has requested $6 million.
Accounting for nearly half the dollars requested is another project that could help alleviate pollution. A new intermodal train station, which has been in the works since the turn of the century, could cut traffic problems on some of the area’s most congested roadways. The station is proposed for eastbound Michigan Avenue, a few hundred feet east of Brady, and would offer commuters rail service from Detroit to Ann Arbor.
State officials already have committed to having trains up and running by October 2010, but if the $27 million requested to assist in station construction and renovation of rail cars is approved, plans could mover faster than initially anticipated.
The Police Department stands to receive significant technological upgrades including new in-car computers, updated audio-video equipment for training procedures, and a new information technology manager. Police combat capabilities could be upped too, with the purchase of 40 new bulletproof vests, five rifles and five Tasers. The total for public safety purchases is approximately $700,000.
Several water mains also could be replaced, at a cost of $3.6 million. In all, 16 locations have been tabbed for updates, 12 of them on the west side of the city.
More than $5 million also was requested for 20 road improvement projects. For a complete list of projects proposed by the city, visit www.usmayors.org.