Posts Tagged ‘Detroit’

Detroit Depot Restoration Moving Along

January 16, 2022

Restoration of the former Michigan Central station in Detroit is well along and project managers expect it to be complete by the second quarter of 2023.

Once completed, you’ll be able to eat, drink, work and even get married in the longtime Detroit icon and symbol of urban decay, but you won’t be able to catch a train.

The depot’s days as a train station ended in early January 1988 when Amtrak ceased using it and the beaux arts building’s new owner has other plans for the area where passengers once boarded trains.

The 18-story MC station has been owned by the Ford Motor Company since 2018. For decades before Ford bought it, the structure, which opened in 1913, had seemed destined to be razed.

Nearly all of its windows had been broken and anything of value had been stolen or removed.

During a news media tour last week of the station complex, project managers said the building was missing everything imaginable when workers began their renovation five-year work.

Ford plans to locate restaurants and a luxury hotel on the upper three floor of the station.

Offices for Ford and its partners in the mobility and autonomous vehicle endeavors will be housed in the next 10 floors.

The bottom floors will be devoted to public gathering spaces, a coffee shop, a food court, and events space with a capacity of 1,000.

The former boarding area will become a mobility testing site to be named The Platform.

During the media tour, Ford’s project manager, Rich Bardelli, said the project remains within its $740 million budget. Ford bought the building and its adjacent properties for $90 million.

Much of the early restoration work at the station involved restoring infrastructure that had vanished during the years when the structure sat vacant and was a target of vandals, thieves and squatters.

This included installing 300 miles of electric wire; 20 miles of heating and cooling duct work and piping; 6 miles of plumbing pipes; and 8.6 miles of grout in between 29,000 terracotta tiles along the arching ceiling of the front waiting room.

Some of the station’s original architectural features had to be recreated and painstakingly installed.

More than 1,700 of the Guastavino terracotta ceiling tiles had to be replaced, which involved building 252 tons of scaffolding to place them 65 feet above the floor.

Engineers used 3-D printing and resin to recreate 560 new lightweight ornate floral rosettes and leafs that adorn the windows.

Most of the original iron rosettes had been removed and during the restoration process some individuals who had possession of some of them dropped them off at the construction site so they could be reinstalled.

Located in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood, the station is the centerpiece of a campus Ford is creating that will cost $950 million.

Ford plans to move 2,500 of its employees in autonomous and electric vehicle development departments to the campus. There will be space for 2,500 more Ford workers from suppliers and partners in the mobility sector.

Aside from the station itself, Ford is renovating the adjacent Book Depository building for use as offices and plans to construct a third office building on the campus.

Bardelli said dining options in the station complex will be located on the top floors of the tower; the former carriage house on the west end of the building along Vernor Highway; and a food court in the concourse.

Negotiations are underway with potential retail, hospitality and hotel vendors and contracts are expected to be reached later this year.

Over the next 18 months craftsmen will be recreating some of the other historic features of the station, including wood wainscoting panels, crown molding, marble borders and wood floors in the former waiting rooms.

“We’re in the midst right now of just starting to put all of that back,” Bardelli said.

The former waiting areas are being repurposed into events space and Bardelli said Ford has already received inquiries from couples who want to get married there.

RAISE Grants to Benefit Regional Rail Projects

November 23, 2021

Projects in Ohio, Detroit and Philadelphia will receive a share of nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Transportation Rebuilding American Infrastructure With Sustainability and Equity grants.

The Michigan Department of Transportation will receive $10 million to be used for the New Center Intermodal Facility Project.

Project plans include a new station to serve Amtrak trains and local and intercity buses that will replace an existing depot in the New Center neighborhood of Detroit.

The new facility will comply with Americans with Disabilities standards and have a multi-level parking garage.

It will be located on the south side of the Canadian National tracks used by Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit (Pontiac) Wolverine Service trains.

The existing boarding platform at the site will be lengthened and rehabilitated. The boarding platform will be connected to the new station by a tunnel.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority will receive $15 million to improve the 19th Street and 37th Street trolley subway stations.

That work is part of a larger trolley modernization program. The RAISE Grant will be used to bring both stations into compliance with ADA standards, rehabilitate boarding areas and conduct other renovations to station facilities.

The Maumee Watershed Conservancy District of Findlay will receive $7.1 million for replacement of a bridge carrying Norfolk Southern tracks over the Blanchard River.

The new bridge will be a three-span, through plate girder structure with a ballast deck.

RAISE grants are one of the few USDOT discretionary programs that allow regional and local governments to directly compete for multimodal transportation funding.

The funding provide are to be used for “planning and capital investments in surface transportation infrastructure and were awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant local or regional impact,” USDOT said in a news release.

The maximum grant award is $25 million with no more than $100 million being awarded to a single state.

Detroit Streetcar to Resume Late Summer

February 17, 2021

The QLine streetcar in Detroit will resume operations in late summer.

Operations of the 3.3-mile streetcar line have been suspended since March 29 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

M-1 Rail, which operates the service, said the resumption of service will hinge on such factors as COVID-19 virus containment, return to office work for major employers along the route, stores and restaurants reopening without restrictions, and the resumption of attendance at sporting and entertainment events.

Delray Tower in Detroit is Closing

November 18, 2020

CSX is closing Delray Tower in Detroit and transferring its duties to a dispatcher located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Delray is one of the few remaining manned interlocking towers still operating in the United States, and one of just two remaining in Michigan.

It is thought to be the last tower to use strong-arm levers.

The busiest interlocking in Michigan is located on the south side of Detroit.

Work had been underway for some time to switch its interlocking plant to remote operation and involved CSX, Norfolk Southern and Conrail Shared Assets.

Trains of Canadian Pacific and Canadian National also operate through the interlocking on trackage rights.

The Michigan Department of Transportation had awarded a $10.5 million grant as part of its Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal project to rebuild the Delray interlocking.

The work included removing two diamonds and adding a third track along Conrail’s Detroit Line between CP Delray and CP Waterman.

Delray Tower was build in 1945 by the Pere Marquette Railroad.

The tower at one time saw more than 200 moves a day, but that has since fallen to an average of 32 to 38 a day.

An operator is remains on duty for a few days in case of malfunctions during remote operation.

The tower is expected to eventually be razed.

Cleanup of CSX Derailment Finished

October 30, 2020

Workers have finished cleaning up a CSX derailment in Dearborn, Michigan, that shut down traffic on Interstate 94 for a while on Wednesday.

The derailment occurred early Wednesday morning when four cars derailed on a bridge over the expressway.

One car was hanging over exit lanes and the road had to be closed to enable workers and equipment conducting the cleanup to reach the scene.

The Detroit area expressway was reopened after CSX officials determined they could complete the cleanup without the road being closed..

It took workers about eight hours to cleanup the site. No hazardous materials were involved in the derailment and there were no injuries.

Man Killed While Stealing Vehicles From CSX Yard

October 23, 2020

A Michigan man who was part of a group of people stealing motor vehicles from a CSX facility near Detroit died after one of the vehicles being stolen landed in a pond.

The incident occurred Thursday about 4 a.m. Huron Township police received a call about 4 a.m. about the thefts from the yard located on Pennsylvania Road between Huron River Drive and Interstate 275 in Wayne County near Romulus.

The vehicles were parked in a secure lot waiting to be loaded onto auto rack freight cars.

Railroad officials said the thieves were able to steal six vehicles, three of which have since been recovered.

One of the men involved in the thefts, lost control of the vehicle he was driving and landed upside down in a pond located on the railroad property.

It was not clear from police reports if the man who died was in the vehicle that rolled over and was partially submerged.

CP to Fully Own Detroit River Tunnel

October 17, 2020

Canadian Pacific said this week it will acquire full ownership of the Detroit River Rail Tunnel for $312 million under an agreement with Ontario benefit pension plan.

The two have an ownership partnership in which CP has a 16.5 percent share. The 1.6-mile tunnel links Detroit with Windsor, Ontario.

In a news release, CP said full ownership will reduce its operating costs related to movements through the tunnel.

OMERS initially invested in the tunnel partnership in 2001.

The sale, which is subject to regulatory and customary closing conditions, is expected to be finished by the end of the year.

U.S. Steel to Idle Much of its Great Lakes Works

December 23, 2019

U.S. Steel plans to lay off more than 1,000 workers in the Detroit area as it begins idling next spring what it termed a significant portion of its Great Lakes Works in Ecorse and River Rouge.

By the end of 2020 the company said the hot strip mill rolling facility will be idled.

The Pittsburgh-based company said production now done at Great Lakes Works will shift to a plant in Gary, Indiana.

The idling will result in layoffs for 1,545 workers U.S. Steel said of the move, which it framed as a response to market demand.

In a news release, U.S. Steel said no employees at the Zug Island plant will lose their jobs before next April.

The news release said the final number of layoffs at Great Lakes Works might be lower than 1,545 because some operations will continue.

These include the pickle line, cold mill, sheet temper mill, continuous galvanizing line, annealing and warehouses.

“Transitioning production currently at Great Lakes Works to Gary Works will enable increased efficiency in the use of our assets, improve our ability to meet our customers’ needs for sustainable steel solutions and will help our company get to our future state faster,” said David Burritt, president and CEO of U.S. Steel, said in a statement.

The statement said the company took into account current market conditions and the long-term outlook for the Great Lakes Works.

The latest move is the second time that production at the Great Lakes Works has been curtailed.

Last August the company announced it was temporarily laying off 200 workers due to idling a furnace due to reduced consumer demand and market conditions.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported that the impact of tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration on Chinese steel imports two years ago may have contributed to the decision to idle the Great Lake Works.

The magazine said U.S. Steel ramped up production at a time when the global economy was cooling and that undercut demand and led to lower prices for steel.

Industry observers have noted that U.S. Steel has older production facilities that are less efficient than those of rival steel companies that use mini mill production.

U.S. Steel has had a series of different strategies in the past two years, leading some to “raise concerns that there’s no long-term, overriding execution capability to improve competitiveness,” wrote Richard Bourke, a senior credit analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, in a note to investors.  “Cash costs from layoffs will likely exceed savings from the cuts, in our view.”

Bloomberg reported that the price of domestic steel is down about 40 percent from its 2018 high, which it reached a few weeks after the tariffs were imposed.

U.S. Steel shares have fallen in value this year by a about a third, hitting their lowest levels since October 2016.

Bloomberg said the company expects to report a 98 percent drop in profits for 2019.

The idling of the Great Lakes Works has raised questions about how well U.S. Steel will be able to supply steel for automotive industry parts after it moves production from Detroit to Indiana.

“They just idled their main automotive mill,” said Dan DeMare, a regional sales manager for Heidtman Steel, a Toledo, Ohio-based steel distributor. “They have bet everything on their commercial ability to be viable and offer the cost to market that’s required, and they’re going to have facilities, equipment and a plan to execute. They’ve failed miserably at that so far.”

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross contended that the idling of the Great Lake Works plant doesn’t mean that the steel tariffs aren’t working.

Ross argued that U.S. Steel suffers from high costs and that many of those losing their jobs will be able to find work at nearby General Motors and Ford Motor plants.

Detroit Lawmakers Push Change to Benefit Transit

December 11, 2019

Detroit area lawmakers are pushing a plan in the Michigan legislature that would lift limitations imposed by the 2011 Michigan Municipal Partnership Act on ballot measure to fund public transportation.

The proposed legislation would lift property tax caps and change the ways proposals are placed on the ballot.

Backers of the change say it will lead to economic growth in the region.

But critics say it would create an “open line of credit” for Wayne County and lifting the property tax cap for transportation funding would create a “tool of foreclosure and taxing” those who can least afford it.

The proposed amendment to the 2011 law would allow local governments to offer more “efficient joint public services.”

The change has drawn some support from business leaders.

Jared Fleisher, vice president of government affairs for Quicken Loans, said the lack of reliable public transit options was a factor in Detroit being bypassed by retail giant Amazon during its second headquarters search.

Ford Paid $90M for Michigan Central Station

September 26, 2018

The price of saving a historic Detroit train station and transforming it into a facility to develop new technologies in the automotive industry was $90 million.

The Automotive News reports that was how much Ford Motor Company paid to buy the decrepit Michigan Central Depot, which will be the centerpiece of a 1.2 million square foot development that also includes residential, commercial and event space.

The figure was taken from government records and means that Ford paid $150 per foot for the 104-year-old, 600,000-square-foot building.

Ford plans to develop electric and autonomous vehicles at the campus it plans to establish at Michigan Central Station.

The company is seeking more than $230 million in tax credits for the project.