City Transformation, News

Before you can ride the M-1 RAIL, construction is ahead

M1 rail Detroit rendering on Woodward

Shovels will go in the ground for the M-1 RAIL by late summer/early fall of this year from Larned to Adams.  That’s way cool, but what does it mean for businesses and residents Downtown? A mess? Difficulty getting around?  Parking problems? Noise?

The goal is to minimize the impact the construction of the 3.3-mile streetcar circulator has on businesses, residents, pedestrians and visitors of the Woodward Avenue corridor. That was the word from M-1 RAIL’s Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs and Director of Governmental and Community Affairs Sommer Woods, who presented to Downtown Detroit Partnership’s Summer Stakeholder Meeting.

“Right now our team is investing a significant amount of time identifying the various ways greater Downtown stakeholders may be impacted by the construction of the streetcar line and devising mitigation strategies,” said Childs. “During construction there will be some short-term inconveniences that will bring long-term benefits. However, our goal is to minimize the inconveniences as much as possible to corridor users.”

Construction Segment 2—north of Adams to West Grand Boulevard—will begin next year.  The M-1 RAIL team is exploring whether Detroit’s streetcar will be on-wire or off-wire.

Childs and Woods presented some of the planning details. We wanted to share them with you.

Segment 1 Construction Overview

detroit_light_rail_drawingConstruction for the streetcar line will occur in two segments with the first segment—Larned to Adams—scheduled to break ground this year.   Construction includes track construction, utility relocations and station platforms.  They also discussed the tentative construction schedule, the impact it will have on businesses, and the traffic management strategy, which includes bus routes, street closures, supply deliveries for businesses, and parking.

Childs and his team shared preliminary plans for:


  • Woodward Avenue will be closed to traffic and pedestrians but clearly marked detours will be available. Construction is expected to be limited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day of the week.

  • All cross-streets will be accessible during construction except for when active work needs to take place in the intersection.  Anticipated time for closure for each intersection is four calendar days.

  • One lane of vehicular traffic will be maintained around Campus Martius Park during construction

Transit Systems & Utilities & Emergency Responders

  • DDOT, SMART and Transit Windsor will maintain service during construction and M-1 RAIL is working with them to redirect bus routes and create temporary stops.

  • Utility service interruptions will be avoided when possible. However, when necessary stakeholders will be given five-days advance notice.

  • Access for emergency responders will be maintained at all times.  A complete emergency access plan is being developed.

Pedestrian Access

  • Crosswalks will still be provided at major intersections.

  • Sidewalks will be provided during construction. However, they will be no larger than 6 feet in width.

  • Limited number of short-term sidewalk closures may be required, but will occur on one side of street during off-peak hours.

Business Impacts

  • M-1 RAIL, Midtown Detroit Inc. and the Downtown Detroit Partnership and other partners are working on developing a comprehensive business mitigation strategy that will be introduced before construction begins.

  • M-1 RAIL established a Business Advisory Council to provide advice and input to the projects throughout construction that meets monthly.

  • M-1 RAIL has created and begun to distribute a survey to businesses along Woodward Avenue to help inform how to best assist them during construction.

  • Businesses will be accessible to customers at all times during construction. Debris will be kept from the sidewalks.

  • Access to alleys and driveways will be maintained to allow for regular business deliveries.

Parking & Garage Access

  • On street parking between Grand Circus Park and Campus Martius Park will not be allowed during construction.

  • Parking garage access will be provided from cross-streets at all times.

Contractor Expectations

  • Contractors will be required to observe all noise ordinances.

  • Contractors and M-1 RAIL will inform businesses of upcoming work in their area on a block-by-block basis.

“When speaking with any group our team is focused on setting realistic expectations,” said Woods.  “We do not want people to be caught off guard about what happens during a major infrastructure project like this one.

More specific details about the construction schedule and activities will be announced after a construction manager is in place, which is expected to be in the near future.

 “As we get closer to breaking ground, and throughout the construction our communication and outreach will become increasingly more frequent and robust,” Woods said.


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