DTE Energy powers the QLINE and the future growth of Detroit’s Woodward Corridor

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Next spring, Detroit’s new modern streetcar – the QLINE – will bring business people, residents and visitors up and down a 3.3 mile stretch of Woodward Ave. on electricity provided by DTE Energy. In partnership with M-1 Rail and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), DTE also invested in a multimillion dollar infrastructure improvement underneath Woodward Ave. that will supply the power to the growing neighborhoods and business along the QLINE route, now and in the future.

“We are proud of this unique collaboration between DTE Energy, M-1 Rail and MDOT, and our ability to provide our combined expertise to help ensure the QLINE is fully operational in the Spring of 2017,” said Bob Richard, senior vice president of Major Enterprise Projects at DTE Energy.  “Building the infrastructure necessary to meet the needs of future business development is another way DTE supports the economic growth and prosperity of the City of Detroit.”

Infrastructure construction along Woodward Ave.

Infrastructure construction along Woodward Ave.

DTE Energy is providing the electricity to serve four new traction power substations, built by M-1 Rail, that will power the QLINE. The first QLINE substation was built in September with three remaining substations scheduled to be built by the end of 2016.  The QLINE car is charged when an overhead arm on the car contacts the overhead catenary wire powered by a substation.

“From working cooperatively with us throughout construction to powering future operations of the QLINE, DTE Energy is an invaluable partner to this project.” said M-1 RAIL President and CEO Matt Cullen. “The electrical system upgrades by DTE are not only the first step toward creating a great regional transit system in Detroit, but they will provide long term benefits for the city and its residents.”

Conduit installation

Conduit installation

The QLINE is expected to boost Detroit’s economy by generating more than $3 billion in new business development, from new housing and hotels to restaurants and retail in Midtown, North End and New Center areas. DTE’s investment in new infrastructure enables future load growth and makes it possible for the energy company to meet the electrical needs of new housing and businesses.

The collaboration between DTE, M-1 Rail and MDOT began a year before the underground construction in an effort to detect potential challenges and identify solutions, which included building new manholes and the associated duct bank, laying 15,000 feet of new conduit, and repaving Woodward Ave. During construction, crews encountered several obstacles, such as the discovery of a sinkhole, unmapped water lines and storm drains, and a buried and abandoned fuel tank. The use of 3D video capability made it possible to “map” DTE assets, identify conflicts and design around them whenever possible. The team’s integrated, proactive approach to the project resulted in significant cost reductions and the completion of the project on schedule.

“I am thrilled to celebrate the QLINE as a model for what can happen when private industry and government agencies collaborate,” said MDOT Director Kirk T. Steudle. “Woodward Avenue is an iconic route with a rich history of helping people get to and from downtown Detroit. The QLINE only enhances the corridor’s vital role. Metro Detroiters use freeways, trains, buses, bicycles and even shoe leather to get around, and MDOT is committed to supporting each and every mode.”

For more information about DTE Energy’s work to power the QLINE, see this recent article in the Detroit Free Press.