Local Detroiter’s Passion to Build the M-1 Rail

t takes patience driving downtown Detroit, especially now that the M-1 Rail project on Woodward Avenue is in full swing. But when it's all over, one person you'll have to thank is Terrance Terrell Anderson of Operating Engineers Local 324 at contractor Stacy and Witbeck, Inc.

"I'm not a quitter, so I want to make sure that everything is completed and of quality," he says.

On a recent rainy day, the construction site is more like a mud bath, with a slick grit that covers machines and workers from head to toe. But Anderson isn't afraid to get dirty. In fact, he says it's all part of the thrill of his job.

"I really like getting up in the morning and smelling that diesel and just going all out," Anderson says. "It's very, very positive energy and we're rebuilding the city."

The M-1 Rail (also called the Woodward Avenue Streetcar Project) revolves around the implementation of a streetcar circulator system that is scheduled to run north and south on Woodward for 3.3 miles between Congress Street and West Grand Boulevard. The streetcar will help transport people working, living and visiting downtown in a more efficient manner, plus benefit the city's economic development.


"I like the fact that I am making history by putting this rail back together again," says Anderson. "I am riding this project out until it's all the way completed. I had a couple more business opportunities, but I'm going to stay right here."

Anderson has been in construction since 1993-starting with Consumers Energy, and working with Stacy and Witbeck for the last year-and has loved building since he was a kid, remembering his yellow Tonka trucks.

Now that he gets to operate the real things, an experience he calls "electrifying," Anderson says it can make him feel like a kid again.

"It's always been my dream to work an excavator bulldozer, so I'm really living the dream right now," he says, but he fully recognizes and respects the dangers of his job.

"There are a lot of dangers involved. You have to plan your work and work your plan," he says, explaining, each worker also fills out a job hazard analysis form every two weeks to help maintain maximum safety on site. "So we have to have all those things in order before we even turn on a machine or grab a shovel."

Although the streetcar project has a long way to go, recently expected to open spring 2017, Anderson says he lets how far they've come be his motivation. And he says he'll be first in line once it opens.

"I don't want to just throw something in the ground and say, 'Oh yeah, I did it.' I want to make sure it's right within the specs, and quality starts here with me and my crew."

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