After Little Caesars Arena opened last month, an influx of traffic began swarming it on event days.
It’s nothing out of the ordinary, however, and there haven’t been any major traffic issues on Woodward and surrounding streets, according to Detroit police.
“It’s different traffic,” said Capt. Octaveious Miles of the Detroit Police Department. “Comerica Park is right there. It’s similar, but it expands further north of the Fisher Freeway now.”
On one recent Saturday, there were events at Little Caesars Arena, Fox Theatre and the Fillmore Detroit, all starting between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“Traffic was heavy, of course,” Miles said. “We were able to maneuver through.”
The Detroit Police Department places officers and civilian traffic guards on every street surrounding the arena to direct the flow of traffic just as they do in front of Comerica Park on baseball game days. The officers are present during the whole event, directing traffic or taking on secondary posts at the arena.
“I would advise motorists to come a little bit early,” Miles said. “Bring their patience. If the concert starts at 8, don’t come at 8 o’clock. As Detroit starts to grow, it’s looking very amazing. Come down early so you can do a little sightseeing as well.”
Miles said some traffic around the arena will ease as visitors new to the arena — and perhaps downtown Detroit — learn their way around.
“As with anything new, there’s always people trying to figure out what works best for me,” he said. “There’s a group that’s used to going to Joe Louis Arena, a group who went to The Palace (of Auburn Hills.) As time goes on, people will find out what works for them. They will adapt.”
Also adjusting to the increase in traffic along Woodward is the QLine operation. A QLine stop in front of the arena opened during the building’s preview week.
Miles said the police department notifies the QLine of delays.
“We make a phone call and work through those challenges when they arrive,” he said.
The QLine has experienced some delays since the arena opened, said Dan Lijana, a spokesman for the M-1 Rail. The system, which has been in operation for the public since May 12, is adjusting to operating in a new environment.
“In the same way the vehicular traffic has run into some slowdown south of the stadium, the QLine experiences high volumes of traffic,” Lijana said. “We’ve been talking to the city and to the arena about ways to understand these traffic patterns and adjust.”
Lijana said the QLine runs smoothly from the northern terminal at Grand Boulevard and experiences some slowdowns south of the arena in both directions.
“We’re continuing to talk to the venues about our operating hours and making sure that folks can get to and from events,” he said.
Event days have been strong in terms of ridership, Lijana said. The QLine averaged 6,000 riders each day one recent Friday and Saturday.
“Because of the interest in Woodward Avenue and the number of development projects going on, that impacts the available lanes for traffic overall,” he said. “That’s wonderful to see that investment, but it does create an operating environment that makes traffic more difficult.”
QLine riders are alerted of slowdowns via the QLine app, while aboard a streetcar and through social media.
Lijana recommends anyone interested in taking the QLine to the arena park north of the building.
“Plan a little bit in advance,” he said.