(CBS Detroit) – The last time Detroit had street car service was in 1956.
A lot has changed since then, the downtown corridor is no longer a bustling hub with sidewalk cafes lining the streets.
Supporters of the M-1 Rail project believe that’s about to change.
It’s a bit rough looking right now. It’s kind of loud. But to the executive of a street-car project, it’s the beginning of a beautiful thing — connecting neighborhoods, services and businesses with each other.
“We’re connecting Wayne State University, DMC, the DIA, the public library, Henry Ford Hospital. We’re connecting all of those things up and down the corridor,” said Paul Childs, the chief operating officer of the M-1 Rail project
Childs tells CBS Detroit the connection will bring about a shift in attitudes. It will be easier to get from block to block, from neighborhoods to downtown, from a game to a mid-town cafe.
The eventual 3.3 mile line will be the catalyst, says Childs, the magnet for businesses and patrons along the entire route. “They’ll be able to park up at the north end, come down, see a ball game, go back, stop and restaurants up in midtown.” added Childs.
According to Childs, the M-1 Rail will make up the remaining costs through marketing and advertising, like future naming rights for the street car.
Some think the money is best spent elsewhere sticking to existing public transportation. “… the Smarts (buses) go all the way out to the suburbs, all the way up to Pontiac,” said Mr. Jackson of Detroit.
Others love the idea of a street car. “Over time it will proove to be worthwhile and over time, maybe in ten years, it will attract more younger people to Detroit,” said Phillip Dage also of Detroit.
The streetcar line will stretch from downtown to Grand Boulevard in New Center. There will be 20 different stations serving 12 stops, with most of the stations being curbside on either side of Woodward Avenue.
It’s all being done with the hope that the rail line will support and solidify a growing, thriving Detroit … downtown and beyond. Development projections are optimistic according to Childs, “we anticipate additional 10k housing … $20-million a year.”
The streetcar line is expected to be operational in late 2016.
This feature is part of CBS 62’s Eye On Detroit series as seen weekdays during “CBS This Morning”.