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Detroit Mayor Proposes Restructuring Landscape, Gets Light Rail Funded
The downturn in the economy only added to what was already a desperate situation in Detroit, Michigan. Over at the Architect’s Newspaper we spotted this great idea to bring the bustling atmosphere of Detroit back to life through futuristic transportation infrastructure. Dave Bing, Detroit’s Mayor announced in his State of the City address a series of drastic measures to get the city on its feet. Among those measures is re-creating the urban density that once made Detroit hum with energy. Another is finally getting the funding to start the first phase of a light rail project that will provide much needed public transportation to the city’s population.
Detroit has lost about half of its population since 1950, with about 150,000 residents leaving the city each decade since then. With the recent financial woes in the auto industry things just got worse. About 1/3 of the city’s buildings are abandoned and more are boarded up each day. With populations in neighborhoods thinning and unemployment rising the city doesn’t have enough money to pay for the infrastructure to keep the city running. Bus service to some neighborhoods has halted and in others it’s infrequent at best. Detroit residents are left unemployed and without transportation to new employment — if they could find it. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing believes it’s time for drastic action.
Bing has just announced a plan to recreate urban density in Detroit. He proposes relocating the city’s population into urban centers. A denser population would mean cheaper public transportation and more concentrated job availability. All of this density comes complete with a light rail system to shuttle the population quickly around the proposed new city center. The light rail project is to be constructed along Woodword Avenue and was approved last year but the city’s financial woes left it with no extra cash to finance the project. A group of independent financial donors, including The Kresge Foundation, stepped in to finance the expensive project. It was also just awarded $25 million in stimulus dollars this month and now has enough to break ground on the first phase.
The density plan is still a bit hazy, with no blueprints or specific details attached, but this drastic measure just might be what Detroit needs. And it surely needs public transportation and the light rail, thanks to recent funding, is on its way.
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