M-1 Rail to bidders: Contract will begin Dec. 1; streetcar service will begin February 2016

From Crain’s Detroit Business:

Here's an artist's rendition of the proposed streetcar line on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. (From M-! Rail.)
Here’s an artist’s rendition of the proposed streetcar line on Woodward Avenue in Detroit.
(From M-! Rail.)

The M-1 Rail streetcar project has told potential vehicle vendors it intends to execute a contract by Dec. 1, according to bid documents on the project’s website.

The $137 million nonprofit M-1 Rail effort is seeking a company to design, engineer and manufacture six streetcars for use on the 3.2-mile grade-level rail loop that will be constructed over the next two years on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue between Baltimore and Congress streets.

The system is projected to be operating for paying passengers by February 2016, according to the request-for-proposal.

The bids are due Oct. 21, and the winner will be selected on Oct. 28. Contract negotiations are slated to begin Oct. 31, and the deal is scheduled to proceed by Dec. 1.

The first streetcars would be delivered between 18 and 24 months later. The contract calls for only new vehicles and forbids refurbished streetcars.

Streetcars typically cost between $2 million and $6 million apiece, depending on size and options, and multi-vehicle orders usually include payment for spare parts and other ancillary costs.

Under “Buy America” requirements triggered by M-1’s use of federal money, the streetcars must be at least 60 percent manufactured domestically.

The streetcars will serve 11 stops and travel at an average speed of 35 mph, mixed with traffic largely in the center lanes of Woodward.

“The vehicle shall be a double articulated, modern urban streetcar with contemporary styling,” the bid document said.

M-1 is seeking low-floor streetcars that can operate off of an aerial electrical wire system, with wheelchair access, heat and air-conditioning, and operator cabs at either end of the car.

The streetcars, expected to seat 60 people with room for 120 more standing, will be up to 25 meters long.

Technically, M-1 Rail won’t actually own the streetcars.

Another entity, called M-2 Rail, was created to own the system to satisfy requirements of the federal government’s complex New Market Tax Credit formula. Such credits are part of M-1’s public-private-foundation funding plan to pay for the system.

M-1 laid out the creation of M-2 in a 2012 report to the U.S. Department of Transportation: “An affiliate of M-1 Rail (a Qualified Low-Income Community Business, or QALICB, referred to as M-2) will be created in order to construct and acquire the project facilities and equipment. M-2 will own all project assets for tax purposes.”

The U.S. Department of Treasury‘s New Market Tax Credit program annually awards credits against federal income taxes for qualified organizations that invest in low-income communities. Those seeking such credits must apply for them annually.

The model used in an M1 report to the federal government was the Siemens S-70 Ultrashort, manufactured by Germany’s Siemens AG.

The M-1 streetcar RFP represents the latest step in a series of major contracts that will be awarded to make the light rail line a reality.

Other M-1 project bids already awarded include San Francisco-based URS Corp. to do design work and Kansas City-based HNTB Corp. to act as owner’s representative on the project.

On July 30, Alameda, Calif.-based civil construction firm Stacy and Witbeck Inc., which has built 17 transit systems, was awarded the project’s construction manager and general contractor bids from a pool of five companies.

Detroit-based White Construction Co. has been subcontracted by Stacy and Witbeck to work on the project.

Future M-1 bids will include an estimated $9.5 million for construction of a vehicle storage and maintenance facility, and a contract for a private-sector vendor to operate and maintain the streetcar system at an estimated $5.5 million annually.

Source: http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20131014/NEWS/131019917/m-1-rail-to-bidders-contract-will-begin-dec-1-streetcar-service-will