M-1 Rail project appears to be on track

Light rail planned for Woodward Avenue is starting to look like a real thing

By Guy Gordon - Reporter/Anchor

DETROIT - They are moving water, gas and electrical lines beneath Woodward Avenue to ensure they can be accessed once track is laid for the M-1 Rail.

Tenants in nearby buildings are notified of periodic service interruptions. It's dusty, and occasionally inconvenient, proof that the rail is for real.

"No derailments ahead. Nope, not at all," said Tim Fischer, the M-1 Rail project's chief administrative officer.

They are reviewing proposals from vendors for streetcars like this one:

Construction and the route will start at Larned Street. When finished, it will average 11 miles per hour with a top speed of 30 miles per hour up the 3.3 mile route with 12 stops and 20 stations. Riders will pay $1.50.

Unlike the People Mover, the M-1 Rail will connect centers of growth -- the Theater District, Comerica Park, Wayne State University and cultural centers -- before ending on the Boulevard in New Center.

Based on research, they anticipate 1.8 million riders in year one.

"At least 3 million (within a few years). That's our projection and we don't have any doubt about it that we'll make those numbers based on what we've seen in cities across the U.S. that have implemented something similar," said Fischer.

Candace Cosey is eager to have the train stop at Starters in Midtown.

"That would be great for the community, you know with it being in Wayne State district, Midtown. It could be great for business," she said.

But will residents use it?

The route also passes by People Mover stations and Amtrak, so it has the potential to take you well beyond Woodward Avenue. Expect a groundbreaking in the first half of summer and construction perhaps by summer's end.

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