Does Detroit Have a Bright Transit Future?

Jon Zemke ponders the many possibilities for building a world-class transportation network throughout metro Detroit.
January 23, 2009, 11am PST | Mike Lydon
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"Metro Detroiters have harbored metropolis jealousy for generations. The kind that manifests itself in statements like,'If only Detroit could be more like Chicago...' or Toronto or San Francisco.

These statements usually pop out when we're contrasting those city's bustling urban canyons to our Quickstop strip malls. But the comparison isn't set in stone. In fact, 20 years from now Woodward Avenue could become the envy of cities across the nation, a vibrant, dense and well-traveled corridor whose main feature is the 21-mile light rail line that connects Pontiac to Detroit.

Similarly, a commuter rail line connecting Motown to Tree Town (Detroit and Ann Arbor for the uninitiated) would connect U-M to WSU and Tiger Stadium to The Big House. Whether it was the exchange of academic ideas, weekend visitors trading cultural experiences or daily work migration, the proposed Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter line would transform both cities and all points in between. Local leaders from both public and private sectors are pushing forward these two projects in hopes of reversing Detroit's car-bound legacy.

Comprehensive mass transit has been essential to developing the density and vibrancy in New York, Boston and Portland. Even cities as unlikely as Phoenix and Salt Lake have begun to see what mass transit can mean for their communities. Metro Detroit, unfortunately, has been lacking since its leaders yanked the streetcars off Woodward 50 years ago."

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Published on Thursday, January 22, 2009 in Metromode
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