Detroit’s M-1 Rail Streetcar Project
Award of Merit

Owner’s Representative: HNTB
General Contractor/Construction Manager: Stacy & Witbeck Inc.
Owner Firm Name: Detroit M-1 RAIL
Lead Design Firm: AECOM

Detroit’s new streetcar system has enjoyed a two-pronged success: the M-1 RAIL is the first major-city transit project to come from a P3 and its on-board energy storage system reduces the visual clunkiness of overhead wires common on similar systems.

Called the QLINE, the transit system stretches 3.3 miles through downtown Detroit and stops at 12 locations along Woodward Avenue, which is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a National Scenic Byway as well an All-American Road.

Since the project was announced, more than 210 development projects have generated over $7 billion in economic activity along Woodward, breaking a stranglehold of reconstruction efforts that could never seem to take shape over 40 years of attempted urban renewal.

In its first week of operation, the streetcar system served almost 50,000 riders.

Sixty percent of the system operates without overhead wiring. Multiple nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion batteries serve as an on-board energy storage system and recharge along the routes and at both terminals. Using recharging technology over the three-mile route has set a precedent in energy efficient operation.

The $139.8-million project was completed in May 2017. The public private partnership generated $100 million, while New Market Tax Credits and two TIGER grants bridged remaining funding gaps.

Related Article: A Great Year for Midwestern Innovation