The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, November 24, 2000

Air ride equipped: New overhead tram arrives at Metro

By The Building Tradesman



Next stop for the Express Tram system: The new Midfield Terminal at Metro Airport in Romulus.

Four 33,000-lb. tram cars were lowered through a 15- by 60-foot hole in the terminal's roof on Oct. 25, beginning the process of installing the world's only indoor, above-ground transportation system of its kind.

Set up 21 feet above gate level, the quiet, futuristic bullet-nose train will operate like an elevator turned on its side - propelled by cables and resting on a cushion of air, rather than wheels. The system consists of two trains, comprised of two cars each. Each two-car train holds up to 212 passengers.

"This Express Tram system will bring an easier and more convenient travel experience to our customers who will use this new terminal," said Jim Greenwald, vice president facilities and airport affairs for Northwest Airlines, who is responsible for design and construction of the new Midfield Terminal. "This community can now see the features of this building being installed and understand the tremendous benefits they will bring to air travel in Michigan."

The terminal building will feature three Express Tram stations - one at the south end, one at the north end and one in the center. The Tram system can take travelers from the center station to either end in just two minutes and the entire length of the concourse in just four minutes. The Tram system can move more than 4,000 passengers per hour in each direction and will work in tandem with 1.5 miles of moving walkways.

Farmington, Connecticut based Poma-Otis Transportation Systems, Inc. manufactured the tram system. Otis Elevator Company is the contractor responsible for installing and maintaining the system. Otis is installing all the passenger conveyance devices, including 43 elevators, 50 escalators and 34 moving walkways in the new Terminal. Workers from Elevator Constructors Local 36 and the Operating Engineers Local 324 installed the Tram system.

Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction Group is serving as general contractor for the entire project. The building designer is Smith Group of Detroit.

The new terminal is scheduled to open in Decemer 2001.


THE FIRST of several overhead tram cars that will be installed at the new Midfield Terminal at Metro Airport comes off a flatbed. The system consists of two trains, comprised of two cars each. Each two-car train holds 212 passengers.