The Building Tradesman Newspaper

Friday, December 02, 2016

Q-Line's rails are all in; entire project is near the end of the line

By Marty Mulcahy, Editor

DETROIT – The city's 6.6 mile-long circulating streetcar route along Woodward Avenue  - the M-1 "Q-Line" - reached a milestone on Nov. 11 with the welding and installation of the final section of rail.

“Today marks the end of Q-Line track construction,” said M-1 RAIL CEO Matt Cullen. “We’re entering a new phase of the project that will see Woodward Avenue reopened to traffic and QLINE cars soon making their first appearance on the track for training and testing.”

M-1 Rail Chief Operating Officer Paul Childs directed workers to make the final weld at 12:30 p.m. to complete connection of the route. The thermite weld was one of more than 1,000 total welds made since the project began September 2014. The welding process requires a crew of up to ten people including four welders and two operators.

“Our team has worked seven days a week, rain or shine, to keep Q-Line construction on schedule,” said Childs. “We’ve installed 34,000 feet of track, nearly 400,000 lbs. of rebar and poured over 12,000 yards of concrete to date. We want to thank the residents and business owners along the route who have worked with us every step of the way. Construction is close to completion.”

Indeed, while the iron rails are all in place, installation of iron rebar in preparation for concrete pours was still taking place in the days just before the Thanksgiving Day parade along Woodward. Various contractors and trades were performing a variety of tasks, including the concrete work, final electrical conduit placement and power hookups, and street lamp work.

The six three-piece streetcars are each 66 feet long and will carry an average of 125 passengers per car. The Q-Line will share the road with street traffic, with lines moving from curbside to the center of the street, depending upon location.

While Woodward has been torn up over the past few years in preparation for the streetcar, the city, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and DTE Energy have all taken advantage of the opened-up street to install more than 30 manholes, some 30 total miles of electrical conduit, 2.5 miles of concrete storm drainage pipe, placement of new traffic signaling equipment, plus new lines for power, data, lighting, communication, water, sewer and steam. It also provided city and private planners to provide order to all of the above.

"From its conception, this project was about much more than transit. It is about cultivating a community that is better connected, advanced and tenacious in its comeback," Childs said.

The M-1 Rail Q-Line project also includes 2.5 miles of curb-to-curb roadway construction, and the complete replacement of two bridges over I-75 and I-94. Work has involved the construction of 20 station platforms, traction power, and train signal and communication systems.

Much of the $140 million cost for the project is being provided philanthropically.

M-1 Rail said it is using an "unprecedented" design, "which will make the Woodward Avenue route the nation’s leading system employing off-wire technology." Approximately 60 percent of the line will operate on battery power provided by 750-volt rechargeable lithium-ion cells, the remainder will be powered by an overhead electrical feed.

The Q-Line streetcars will feature wi-fi access for passengers, vertical bicycle racks and HVAC units to keep passengers comfortable during all weather seasons. The QLINE will allow for station-level access for pedestrians as well as persons who use mobility assistance devices such as wheelchairs.

The three-piece streetcars are each 66 feet long and will carry an average of 125 passengers per car. The QLINE will share the road, traveling with traffic on Woodward Ave. at speeds up to 35 mph.

The system's cars will be operational starting in February, but passengers won't be taken on until April.


ADDING A FINE TOUCH to an electrical pad in the middle of Woodward Avenue near West Grand Boulevard in Detroit is Jose Andrade of Cement Masons Local 514. He’s employed by Merlo Construction. The Q-Line rails, at left, are shown running south.


The M-1 Rail project, aka the Q-Line, isn’t just about iron, concrete and electricity. Laborers Local 1191 member Juan Pena digs out a space for a tree to grow next to the curb along Woodward. Handling the heavy machinery is Mike Turner of Operating Engineers Local 324. They’re employed by Stacy and Witbeck.

RODBUSTER Troy Michael Van Epps ties up some reinforcing steel in a median along Woodward Avenue. He’s employed by Ace Steel.