M-1 RAIL, was formed by private sector and philanthropic leaders in 2008, as a result of Super Bowl XL when the need for reliable transit alternatives became more evident, to provide connections to key Detroit destinations within the Downtown, Midtown and New Center areas.
M-1 RAIL completed numerous feasibility studies to identify the initial project definition. After much analysis and review of other peer light rail and streetcar systems, M-1 RAIL recommended the implementation of an approximately 3-mile fixed rail streetcar system along the southeast Michigan’s iconic Woodward Avenue (Highway M-1) corridor. It was long believed such a project would serve as a catalyst for economic development and provide improved transit service connecting Detroit’s New Center, Midtown and Downtown.
As consensus grew and public support evolved around transit, the project grew and in 2010 changed from a small modern streetcar route of approximately 3 miles in length to a larger Light Rail Transit (LRT) system approximately 9 miles in length. In early 2010, the Federal Government awarded $25 million through a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) I Grant to the project. Ultimately, in late 2011 it was determined by the City of Detroit, State of Michigan and Federal Transit Authority (FTA) that under the current economic circumstances and due to the lack of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) structure in Southeast Michigan, the $500 million 9-mile LRT project was not feasible.
In late 2011, M-1 RAIL embarked on re-envisioning and validating for a shorter 6.6 mile loop connecting Downtown Detroit to Midtown, New Center and the North End. M-1 RAIL worked with the FTA, the State of Michigan, the City of Detroit, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and a range of stakeholders to validate the capital and operating costs for a modern streetcar project; to confirm existing private and philanthropic funding, secure new commitments; and to develop the complex financial and organizational structures required to implement this unique public-private partnership. The validation process concluded in the spring of 2012 with a commitment to move forward with the proposed streetcar system by M-1 RAIL.
Construction on the line began in July 2014 and will be complete during 2016. The streetcar is expected to be operational in early 2017.
M-1 RAIL Business Plan: Business Plan