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Detroit Free Press: Dream of regional rail-transit system is nearing reality

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-16-09 05:04 PM
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Detroit Free Press: Dream of regional rail-transit system is nearing reality
Dream of regional rail-transit system is nearing reality
$44 million for line pledged; leaders back plan

BY JOHN GALLAGHER FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER March 16, 2009


After decades of missed chances, southeast Michigan appears closer than ever to getting what other major cities already enjoy -- a true regional transportation system.

The first link in that potential system got a major boost last week when the Kresge Foundation and Detroit's Downtown Development Authority pledged a combined $44 million to the proposed M1-RAIL light-rail line on Woodward in Detroit.

The potential is big. Beyond actually moving people from place to place, regional transit systems tend to spur nearby creation of residential, retail and other development. The regional transit plan being considered for southeast Michigan envisions 30,000 new jobs, $1.4 billion in annual payroll and almost 11,000 housing units built near the transit lines, as well as boosted retail sales and other benefits, all spurred by the year 2035 if a regional transit system is built.

Momentum is building. In addition to the big pledges last week, Congress approved a $950,000 earmark for a Detroit-Ann Arbor route, and regional leaders expressed hope late last week that some of the federal stimulus money could go toward a regional transit system.

"What gives me the most optimism is that we've gotten to the point where just about everyone in the region agrees we need quality regional transit," said Megan Owens, executive director of the nonprofit citizens group Transportation Riders United. .........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20090316/BUSINESS04/903160...



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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-17-09 10:32 AM
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1. WHen I was a kid, I looked forward to taking the Woodward streetcar into the city.
At the time, it ran out to Pleasant Ridge and we'd take the bus and transfer. We lived in Berkley. It meant a day shopping at Hudson's. A hot fudge sundae at Sanders. A Boston Cooler at the Vernor's plant. A visit to the Detroit Public Library and the Museum.

Losing the streetcars was terrible ... an unforgivable error by GM and the auto barons.
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maddogesq Donating Member (915 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-19-09 10:53 AM
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2. A personal expience.
Sometimes its hard for me to have pity on the auto industry because I know full well that they fought mass transit in this area tooth and nail back in the 60s when there was a chance to build it.

You see, although I grew up here, I have lived in Chicago and the Denver/Boulder area; places that have pretty decent suburban transit systems. When I came back here in 1985 after enjoying the public transit of my college years in Chi Town, I went through a sort of shock and ire. At that time I did not drive, and it really felt weird not to move around at will.

In 1989, I got my license after low vision specialists were able to fit me with contacts and bioptic telescopes. Had that not happened, I would have seriously considered moving back to Chicago or Denver.

Over the years, I have gotten strange looksespecially from friends who worked in the auto industrywhen I talked about the need for better mass transit around here. Maybe now the chickens are finally coming home to roost.

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Bozita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Mar-19-09 11:48 PM
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3. We took the Michigan Ave. streetcar all the way to Woodward.
Past Livernois. Past Junction. Past Western Market. Followed quickly by the horrible smell from the Hygrade plant, I dreaded that spot, especially during the sweltering summer days. Soon after, Briggs Stadium. Downtown was just a minute or two away.

I remember shopping (tagging along, really) in Kerns. Across the street was J.L. Hudson's with its magical 12th floor. No place on Earth could have been as special as that 12th floor. Every toy ever conceived by the mind of man was there.

Lunch was usually at the counter of Kinsels. That place was SRO every time I was there. I do remember that nothing at Kinsels tasted like anything I'd tasted before. My very first encounter with fast food.

The streetcar ride home was both anticipated and feared. Hygrade's. Once past it, I could concentrate on the the sights, sounds, and the unmistakable feel of steel wheels on steel tracks.

Special.

That's the only way to describe streetcars.

I got that feeling only one time after. Took the wife and kids to San Francisco. Guess what they remember from that trip.


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TahitiNut Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-20-09 09:18 AM
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4. In the 15 years I lived in Silicon Valley, the 'special' times were spent in the city ...
... riding the cable cars. I LOVE the cable cars. One of my favorite rituals would be to get up EARLY on a weekend, drive to the city and park SoMa, walk to the Hyde-Market Street cable turnaround, ride the cable car over the hill to the Wharf, have breakfast at the Buena Vista as soon as it opened, and spend the day as a pedestrian and riding back to my car. Every second riding the cable cars was a joy ... chatting with others, gazing at a city I love, feeling the breezes, and tapping into that "kid" in me that loved the street cars of Detroit.

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