Detroit streetcar project M-1 delayed through 2017

RELATED TOPICS: PASSENGER | LIGHT RAIL | TRANSIT | MIDWEST
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DETROIT – Motor City officials say updated safety rules and winter are forcing them to push back opening a new streetcar line until at least 2017.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the safety rules were part of the Federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act signed into law in 2012, government agencies are just now enforcing those rules.

"MAP-21 is now just being implemented throughout the whole transit area," said Paul Childs, chief operating officer for M-1 Rail. "It’s going to be a learning experience. We think we have a sense of it, but it’s new and it’s the government."

Last winter’s tough weather also slowed construction. "We’re not quite where we want to be and we’re working to catch up," Childs says. "The winter hurt us." 

Production delays by the streetcar maker mean streetcars will be delivered to Detroit in late 2016 followed by four more in spring 2017. The service needs at least four to start passenger service.

Childs says much of the lost time in construction can be made up with worker overtime, so he expects construction to finish by late 2016, even if operations have to wait until months later. He says the majority of underground utility work has been finished and Childs said construction in the central downtown core should not interfere with the annual Thanksgiving Day parade in November.

The M-1 is planned as a 3.3-mile streetcar line along Woodward Avenue from Congress Street downtown to Grand Boulevard in the New Center area, M-1 will serve 12 locations along the route with 20 stations, some on either side of the street for a given location. After several years of planning for the line, construction began in July 2014.

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