By: Leonard N. Fleming, The Detroit News
The home of the future QLine rail line was unveiled Tuesday, marking another major step toward next spring’s opening of the long-planned streetcar system up Woodward from downtown to Midtown.
The Penske Tech Center, named after billionaire and M-1 Rail board chairman Roger Penske for his involvement in the public-private $137 million project, will house the administrative staff and also serve as the operations and maintenance center for the streetcars.
The 19,000 square-foot facility is located in the city’s North End on Woodward just a block north of Grand Boulevard and has a pit bay to repair the streetcars and a wash bay to clean them. It will also house the streetcars during off hours.
Penske said he has been pleased with the progress downtown Detroit has been making and that the QLine streetcar system and the development up and down the 3.3-mile line will be a boon for the city.
“We see the development that’s taking place,” Penske said after the unveiling ceremony of the $10.6 million center. “We’re going to see commercial value. We’re going to see homes. We’re going to see neighborhoods grow and that will be the ultimate benefit of the project.”
When asked if Penske believed this line would come to fruition after years of delays and funding setbacks and government challenges, he said: “You dream but you never know the final outcome. I think we were committed. … We locked our hands and we never stopped.”
It’s a neighborhood project with 13 stations that’s connect downtown to midtown.
Matt Cullen, CEO and president of M-1 Rail system, said the QLine system will be a “tremendous catalyst for economic development and a tremendous catalyst for other regional transit activity.”
“It has been a long time coming,” said Cullen after the event that featured speakers such as Mayor Mike Duggan, City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield and U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn. “It had all kinds of twists and turns, changes in administrations and financial challenges, but it’s all come together.”
Cullen said M-1 Rail officials expect the capital investment in the region due to the QLine will be upward of $150 million.
Duggan said the vision and tenacity of Penske and other M-1 Rail officials prompted creation of a streetcar line that has already improved the city.
“I have just marveled as we have watched buildings that have been vacant up and down the line being renovated,” Duggan said. “Roger told me that if we build this rail line, it would spur development. And here we are. He was right.”