July 02--Construction of the M-1 Rail also will inconvenience drivers on I-75 and I-94, with both interstates to temporarily close sometime this summer as crews reconstruct Woodward Avenue overpasses above the interstates as part of the 3.3-mile project.
M-1 Rail officials announced the tentative closures today, along with updating business owners with a project schedule, in a meeting with Midtown business owners at the Max Fisher Music Center on Woodward at Mack. Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Rob Morosi said today that the Woodward Avenue overpasses for both freeways will be demolished during construction of the rail line and wider bridges built.
-- Graphic: See the M-1 rail route
Morosi said officials looked at the possibility of widening the current overpasses to accommodate the rail line, but it was not found to be fiscally responsible. Preliminary work -- which includes utility relocation -- will begin on the overpasses later this month, with demolition expected in mid-August for the southbound I-75 overpass and late-August or early September for the southbound I-94 overpasss work. Eight weekend freeway closures will take place starting next month through September 2015 to complete reconstruction of all four overpasses.
The $140-million streetcar line, which is expected to begin operating in late 2016, will stretch from downtown to the New Center area.
M-1 officials announced Friday that construction will begin on July 28 and will require the closure of Woodward between Adams Street and Campus Martius for about 120 days as crews begin reconstructing the roadway and laying rail.
The overpasses will be done in phases, with half done at a time. Morosi said traffic over the freeways will be down to one lane in each direction, along with a left-turn lane, during demolition and reconstruction, the first phase of which is expected to last about 10 weeks through Oct. 15.
Closures will happen again next winter, Morosi said, as bridge beams and rail lines are installed.
Questions still remain as to whether M-1 will run as a limited, stand-alone operation -- much as the People Mover has looped around downtown since the 1980s -- or lead to the build-out of a regional system that could eventually run north to 8 Mile Road or even Pontiac and include rapid transit buses.
Funding for that broader vision does not yet exist. A plan from the new Regional Transit Authority to ask voters for a fee or tax to pay for it was delayed last month until 2016, which could give the public time to experience the M-1 line in action. Depending on what sort of larger system is designed, stretching the line farther north -- and east and west -- could cost from hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $1 billion, M-1Rail officials said.
M-1 Rail officials have said funding already generated -- to the tune of nearly $140 million -- is enough to keep the rail line running for 10 years.
Contact Marlon A. Walker: 313-223-4531 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marlonawalker.
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