MI: Community Weighs in on How New M-1 Rail Streetcar Line Will Look at Meeting Today

May 29--As plans for the M-1 Rail's hub and administration offices begin to take shape, residents in the north end Detroit neighborhood where the project is being built will get a chance to have input as to how the final product will look.

From landscaping to lighting, M-1 Rail officials are seeking input on the vehicle storage and maintenance facility, to be built along Woodward between Custer and E. Bethune avenues. The process will begin today at a meeting from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Triumph Church East Campus, 2760 E. Grand Blvd. Several other meetings are planned.

"We think it's very important for community, specifically, to have some input," said Sommer Woods, director of external relations for the M-1 Rail project. "A lot of it is from an aesthetic perspective and how it fits into the community as well, understanding what the community is doing."

The $140-million M-1 Rail will consist of a 3.3-mile streetcar line on Woodward between downtown Detroit and the New Center area.

-- Graphic: See the M-1 rail route

Construction of the $6.9-million hub and office facility is expected to start in August after officials seek choose a company to design the facility. It is expected to be between 17,000 and 20,000 square feet, including a second floor for storage.

Today's meeting is the first chance to get with residents in the area and talk specifics of the project itself. The curbside streetcar line is expected to run along Woodward from Jefferson Avenue to Grand Boulevard. The groundbreaking has been planned for this summer, with lines expected to be complete on the 3.3-mile stretch by late 2016. Amenities already discussed are wi-fi and bike storage on the trains.

Khalilah Gaston, executive director for Vanguard Community Development Corp., said the community meetings will give M-1 leaders an opportunity to tell their story to residents.

"It makes the project more tangible," Gaston said Wednesday. "People have seen M-1 Rail in the media, but it hasn't gotten to that intersection yet. It'll kind of signal to residents that this will have a bearing on what will happen in the north end. Residents have questions about how will they board and what will be the process, how it will impact nonmotorized transportation. Buses. Environmental impact."

Community input has been key recently in construction projects across the region, including the I-96 reconstruction project. In that case, MDOT officials reached out to drivers through social media and area businesses to poll them on whether to shutter a section of the entire freeway completely or to partially close the interstate during construction, which was expected to take up to three years.

The entire section of I-96 from Telegraph Road to Newburgh Road closed in early April and could reopen before fall.

Contact Marlon A. Walker: 313-223-4531 or mwalker@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter: @marlonawalker.

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