Detroit’s once-booming automotive industry paved way for the sprawling suburbs in which Woodward Avenue now extends, but along with that 20th century innovation came the well-known de-population of downtown Detroit. Now the question has become, how do we bring people- young, working people- back downtown and bring the city into the 21st century?
One major way is: public transportation. The ongoing battle for a more streamlined transit in Detroit’s midtown has been re-ignited in the past few days. A new proposal for a light rail system is to run a 3.4 mile span on Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to the New Center. The news is welcome after the previous M-1 Rail proposal from the privately-owned organizations’ plans were sidelined in 2011 due to lack of funds and the intervention of Detroit Department of Transportation. The Transportation Department cited un-sustainable long-term costs for maintenance and care that it’s huge deficit budget wouldn’t be able to sustain. Now, a year and some months later, the group relaunched the idea- this time with money ready up front.
“The group of private investors and philanthropic groups behind the effort said they would commit to paying the estimated $5.1 million annual cost of operating the Woodward rail line through 2025.” -VIA The Detroit Free Press
This development is an exciting step towards invigorating Detroit’s midtown and providing a vital link to commerce upon the ever developing strip of historic Detroit.
The unstated hope is that a light-rail system will do more than simply move people around. It’s a sign of progress and modernization — and a selling point for the young, creative professionals Detroit wants to retain and attract. Southeastern Michigan has suffered youth exodus, thanks to its tepid job market. Cities like Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco lure new residents in part because of their extensive mass-transit systems.” -VIA Assignment Detroit
The M-1 Rail submitted the report to the federal government on April 20th and is now available to the public.
Check out this video to learn more about the Woodward Avenue Light Rail and what you can do to support!