Is Spending Billions on Highway Expansions the Best Way to Support Detroit's Recovery?

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is considering $4 billion in highway expansion projects at a meeting today. With Detroit pursuing several alternative transportation initiatives, is this the best way to spend scarce federal dollars?

"On the one hand, some Detroit power players are starting to embrace sustainable transportation," writes Angie Schmitt. "Regional leaders recently brought together urban and suburban officials to create the first unified regional transit system for the area. The city of Detroit is working to add 100 miles of bike lanes this year. And then there are the plans for downtown light rail and bus rapid transit to the suburbs."

"But amid the signs of progress are two highway projects that threaten to undermine the region’s recovery," notes Schmitt. "The worst of the two, perhaps, is the $2.7 billion plan to widen I-94 through MidtownSEMCOG and the political leaders who appoint its members apparently believe that ramming more than half a dozen new highway lanes through one of the city’s most promising neighborhoods will help stabilize Detroit."

"City residents in Detroit are still trying to cope with hours-long waits for the bus. Extravagant highway projects through city neighborhoods should be a non-starter," she urges. "With this vote, greater Detroit has an opportunity to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, to demonstrate that the region is looking ahead, that it has the vision to solve its formidable problems."

Full Story: Detroit’s Regional Planners Need to Kick the Highway Habit

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