Detroit's M-1 Rail streetcar line under construction
Streetcars are about to hit the road again in Detroit.
Fifty-eight years after the last streetcar rumbled down Woodward Avenue in Detroit, work on a new commuter rail line along that corridor is under way.
The five-kilometre project is called M-1 Rail.
"The M-1 RAIL Woodward Avenue Streetcar project is envisioned to be one element of a future modern, world-class regional transit system," according to the projects website. "The mission of M-1 RAIL is to create a catalyst for investment, economic development and urban renewal that positively impacts the entire region through the construction of a streetcar circulator system."
M-1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen was on Woodward Avenue on Monday, watching the heavy equipment work.
"We've been working on our project for a long time ... so it's not just the transit system, it's not just the economic development, it's the total re-do of Woodward and all the infrastructure," Cullen said. "So it's a big day for the City of Detroit."
The project is being funded by a mix of private, federal, state and local money.
According to the M-1 Rail's website, the idea for a streetcar down Woodward came in 2008, as a result of Super Bowl XL at Ford Field downtown.
That's when "the need for reliable transit alternatives became more evident, to provide connections to key Detroit destinations within the Downtown, Midtown and New Center areas," according to the M-1 website.
The streetcar line will run down Woodward Avenue, with major venues the Fox Theatre to west and Comerica Park and Ford Field to the east.
Not everyone agrees with the project.
Two Wayne County Commissioners, Martha Scott (D-Detroit) and Shannon Scott (R-Canton), both told the Detroit Free Press in June they want roads repaired, not a new streetcar line on a state-owned road.
The M-1 Rail project will take more than two years to complete.