July 05 2013

The State of Transit in Southeast Michigan

Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

Transit has been a topic of interest in 2013 Detroit. With the M1 Woodward Avenue rail project given the go-ahead and news of the expansion of Interstates 94 and 75, organizations and movements like the Detroit People’s Platform and Convention are shifting their focus to organizing for transit justice. Issues like sustainability and economic viability are central topics in the discussion.Proposed M1 Rail Stops

While the M1 rail project has faced delays, it is slated to start construction soon. But the $140 million project has sparked debates over whether a single route along 3.3 miles of Woodward Avenue is the best way to spend money on transit in Detroit. Detroit’s bus system faced major cutbacks in 2012, leaving many Detroiters stressed for ways to get to work. Now the debate around the Woodward Avenue project centers around the injustices that cuts to service have brought upon neighborhoods left out of recent redevelopment efforts.

Another controversial transportation development in Detroit is the expansion of Interstates 94 and 75, which was announced in mid-June.  A recent opinion piece by Model D media even compares the $4 billion price tag of the expansion with other transportation proposals for the region and states that the money could build 100 miles of light-rail (compare that to M1’s 3.3 miles). Adding to the controversy further is the fact that I-94’s expansion will cut into Midtown, one of the hotbeds of redevelopment in Detroit today; opening up further questions about the patterns of growth in the City.

With so much money and controversy pouring into transit projects in Detroit it will be important to watch how engineers interact with the communities their projects travel through.

How has your community been able to hold transit developers accountable in your city?

Credits: Data and images linked to sources.

Meg Mulhall

Meg Mulhall is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She calls Kalamazoo, Michigan her hometown but is currently exploring community organizing and urban planning efforts in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan. Planning to pursue a degree in either public policy or political science, Meg is interested in the relationship between government and non-governmental organizations and how those relationships can help remedy the lack of responsible and smart planning-related policies.

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This entry was posted on Friday, July 5th, 2013 at 9:25 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Engineering, Environment, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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4 Responses to “The State of Transit in Southeast Michigan”

  1. Detroit’s Urban Agriculture Ordinance Inspires Changes to Vacant Lots | The GRID | Global Site Plans Says:

    […] rampant blight, you will notice some optimistic trends in sustainability, from organizing around transit justice to increased biking. Another huge trend here turns those vacant parcels of land you read so much […]

  2. John Wallace Says:

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to put a rail line down one of your principal corridors. However, Detroit is in need of interaction with areas that can bring money and a greater number of skilled workers or researchers into the city. If a rail line, why shouldn’t it extend to Southfield and further north, or Ann Arbor to connect to U of M.

  3. Meg Mulhall Says:

    New transit projects are very exciting! You’re right, John, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with putting a rail line down on Woodward, the main drag in Detroit, but some could argue that Detroit lacks the density needed to ultimately make a rail line worthwhile. Maybe a bus rapid transit system would be more practical – more flexible and easier to adjust to changes in demographics and density as Detroit rebuilds itself? Check out one of my more recent posts on the University of Michigan’s shuttle between Ann Arbor and Detroit. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and how you think this could be expanded into a more permanent pathway between the two cities.

  4. A K Says:

    Hello! I am currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan in the Master of Urban Planning Program. I think you might be interested in checking out the program. We have a transportation concentration in the program. You should consider contacting the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning for more information :)

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