Wednesday, December 1, 2010
002: Woodward Light Rail (Part 1)
It seems to me that a good place to start a discussion about design in Detroit is with transportation. It is the “Motor City” after all, and as the “Motor City” Detroit is great for getting around… if you own a car. The public transportation system in the city is often noted as one of the worst in the country. The system depends entirely on bus transit (with the exception of the People Mover-which we can discuss the “value” of later). Recently, with the rising costs of gasoline, the concern for global warming, and the economic recession, the city has renewed its interest in a vibrant public transportation system similar to those that can be found in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, or any modern European city. Federal grants and private endowments (around $500 million) have allowed the city to begin a 9.3 mile long two phase light rail project that would run up Woodward Ave. from downtown to 8 mile.
Various opinions on the development of this project prevail. From those in the city who believe that light rail and the redevelopment programs that often come alone with it will benefit the city inspiring more economic development and bringing jobs back to Woodward, to those who believe that the entire project is a waste of time and will result in another under used and costly transportation system similar to the now defunct People Mover. Two you tube videos, I think, illustrate the major differences of opinion regarding the light rail, and I think provide a good introduction to the design project. The first video is the mayoral candidates for interim mayor after the ousting of Kwame Kilpatrick discussing their opinions on the light rail (not surprisingly they are all in favor of it) and the second is a video created by reason.tv a libertarian production company who is decidedly against the project. I have also included the promotional video from the Detroit Department of Transportation. The website for the light rail project is listed in the links page.
Does Detroit need a new transportation system? Is light rail the answer to our economic needs or is it a waste of our time and money?
Have your say in this week’s poll.