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Changing the Way Detroit Moves: First Rails Arrive for M-1 RAIL

Posted on Tuesday, August 26 2014 in Citylife

Rail3 M1Rail PNG

After more than seven years in the making, excitement in Detroit has taken off as plans for the city’s M-1 RAIL have begun to come to life. Construction activities officially got underway in late July on the $140 million streetcar line that’s expected to be operational by late 2016.

The rail will feature six modern streetcars that will transport more than 6,000 daily riders between its 20 stations. The 3.3-mile route will also take riders to and from DDOT and SMART stops, the Detroit People Mover, Amtrak, the Windsor Tunnel Bus and the proposed Bus Rapid Transit.

In mid-August the first shipment of rails, totaling approximately one mile of the route, arrived in Detroit from Indiana. Each piece of rail weighed in at more than 300 pounds and measured more than 80 feet in length.

M-1 Rail President and Chief Executive Officer Matt Cullen, describes the rail in a press release as “the future of transportation in Detroit and in our region.”

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M-1 RAIL is committed to providing contracts to local companies
and creating job opportunities for qualified Detroiters.

Some of Detroit’s largest business, educational, medical, cultural and entertainment destinations will be connected by the system. During the construction period, great efforts are being made to minimize disruption to these attractions as well as to residents and visitors.

Fountain Bistro Co-owner Matthew Morin says road closures have been handled well thus far, and the restaurant has not yet seen a significant impact on business.

“The biggest change we’ve seen is increased congestion around Campus Martius Park,” said Morin. “We’ve set aside additional cash reserves as a safety net in the event closures hurt business in March and April, which are traditionally our slowest months of the year.”

Morin adds that overall he’s very optimistic about the impact of the project, which he feels will be a benefit to all businesses along the Woodward corridor.

“There will be an M-1 stop within one block of Fountain Bistro, so I fully expect it will drive additional customers into the park and through our doors,” said Morin.

M-1 RAIL Director of External Affairs Sommer Woods says the organization works diligently to communicate with businesses and stakeholders in advance so they can make the best possible decisions.

“People know there will be some challenges, but our outreach has been well-received because our goal is to help them be prepared,” said Woods.

Woods adds that in general Detroiters are excited for the project, but understand there will be a little pain for long-term gain.

“The M-1 might not be to the extent of the Metro or The L, but this will provide a way for Detroiters to go farther — and it’s certainly a step in the right direction,” said Woods.

Detroit’s M-1 RAIL is the first public streetcar line in the nation being supported by a public-private partnership comprised of foundations, corporations, and local, county, state and federal governments.

Visit m-1rail.com for updates on construction and traffic closures.

 

Are you excited to see the M-1 RAIL Streetcar come to life? What impact do you think this new transit option will have on the city of Detroit and beyond?

 

By: Angela Hernandez

Photo Credit: M-1 RAIL