DETROIT (AP)¬†– Below-ground utility relocation is underway on a 3.3-mile light rail system that will run from Detroit’s downtown riverfront to the city’s New Center area.

Crews on Friday started moving or replacing water-catch basins, storm manholes and water-main gate valves along Woodward Avenue, according to officials for the M-1 Rail.

The work is the initial step toward full construction activities on the streetcar system and is not expected to prevent customer access to local businesses.

“The relocation of underground utilities will allow the project to move rapidly once track construction along Woodward Avenue begins next year,” said Paul Childs, the M-1 Rail’s chief operating officer.

The $140 million streetcar line is scheduled to start running in late 2015. The federal government has committed $25 million to the project.

The route will include stations and curb-side stops.

Crews doing the utility relocation are expected to spend anywhere from five to 12 days at eight worksites. The plan is for them to complete work at one site and then move on to the next. Ten-foot by 10-foot excavations will be needed at each site.

“We will be using traffic control barrels, signs and barricades to establish temporary lane closures,” said Tom Gilman, project manager. “We are not shutting down Woodward Avenue for these eight worksites. This work will eventually require some temporary utility shutoffs, but to minimize the impact to businesses and residents, we have a strategy in place to provide advance notice to the affected parties.”

Business leaders including Penske Automotive Group chief Roger Penske and Quicken Loans founder and chairman Dan Gilbert pushed strongly for a light rail along Woodward, the city’s primary business and commercial corridor. In recent years, Quicken Loans and other employers have moved thousands of workers to offices downtown.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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