Detroit — The city’s QLine street car line continues down its track to open next spring, and officials marked another milestone in the project Thursday.
The curb-to-curb reconstruction of 2.5 miles of Woodward between Sibley and Chandler is finished, officials said.
“It’s a big day for us,” said Matt Cullen, CEO of the M-1 Rail. “Today is the day we’re calling an end to the (road) construction on Woodward.”
M-1 Rail owns and operates the QLine, a soon-to-be-used 6.6-mile streetcar loop between Campus Martius downtown and the city’s New Center area. Thursday’s announcement comes nearly three weeks after the M-1 Rail’s final line track on Woodward at Amsterdam Street in the Midtown area was welded together.
Cullen said the last day of road construction on Woodward came exactly when it was expected.
“It’s right on schedule,” he said. “We had hoped to be operational by April, and we’ll be operational by April.”
Paul Childs, M-1 Rail’s chief operating officer, said there is still some minor work to be done, such as construction of the streetcar line’s stations, but the project’s road work on Woodward is all finished.
Cullen and Childs made the remarks during a Thursday news conference held at the Penske Tech Center, the home of the M-1 Rail administrative offices, on Woodward in the New Center area.
They were joined by officials with M-1 Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation, Downtown Detroit Partnership, Midtown Detroit Inc. and others.
Cullen praised their organizations, the project’s contractors, utility companies and everyone else who was involved with the project.
Construction of the $140 million streetcar system project began 18 months ago. Once completed, the system will stretch 3.3 miles on Woodward, serving 12 locations.
The project was led and funded by private businesses and philanthropic organizations, in partnership with local, state and the federal government.
In September, officials unveiled the first completed 66-feet-long, 15-feet tall and 87,000-pound QLine streetcar. The line will have six streetcars when it opens.
As part of the project, the infrastructure along Woodward has been upgraded, including new overpasses at Interstates 75 and 94 as well as new streetlights, drainage and underground water and utility lines.
“This is much more than reconstructing a road,” said Tony Kratofil, MDOT’s metro region engineer. “We’ve rebuilt the street, we’ve rebuilt overpasses that were built back in the 50s and 60s, replaced water mains that dated back to the 1800s. The improvements are going to make a real difference in the heart of Detroit.”
Miles Nelson, who owns the Praise Him Beauty, Barber, and Nail Salon on Woodward near Grand Boulevard since 2001, said he looks forward to the day when the street cars start running on the busy thoroughfare.
“I’ve never been more optimistic about our future than I am today,” he said. “Small businesses on Woodward like mine have been looking forward to this day for a long time. I know once the QLine is up and running, we’ll attract more customers and new residents.”