The Role of Highways in American Poverty

If part of a body is sick, the whole body can’t be healthy, and many cities across America have parts that aren’t doing very well. But there are regions that are trying to become healthier by coming together, rather than pulling apart. Tearing down a highway can be one way to do this. But it’s not the only way. My colleague Derek Thompson has written about the miracle of Minneapolis, where high-income communities share tax revenues and real estate with lower-income communities to spread prosperity. A year ago, I visited Louisville, where a court ordered the county and city to combine their school districts in order to integrate their schools. Today, Louisville is still trying to keep its county and city schools integrated, even after the Supreme Court told the city it no longer had to do so. In Chicago, a regional housing authority that covers eight counties, including Cook County, is working to move families from the inner city to higher-opportunity neighborhoods. Some cities use inclusive zoning, in which all new construction must include a certain percentage of housing for low-income residents, which means that the wealthy can’t separate themselves from the poor.

Source: The Role of Highways in American Poverty

M-1 Rail opens Penske Tech Center; first Qline cars will be in Detroit by fall | MLive.com

I’m ready for M1 Rail to be up and running so the city and region can talk about extending it up Woodward Avenue into Oakland County, or at least to 8 Mile.

M-1 Rail CEO Matt Cullen joined M-1 Board Chairman Roger Penske and state and city officials to open the 19,000-square-foot Penske Tech Center in Detroit’s North End neighborhood, where a little more information on the 3.3-mile rail loop was outlined.

Cullen said the Qline cars should be running on Woodward Avenue by spring 2017. That leaves a bit of cushion to the winter 2017 deadline the rail was bumped to last year.

Everything is on schedule, though, Cullen said.

Source: M-1 Rail opens Penske Tech Center; first Qline cars will be in Detroit by fall | MLive.com

Jail site for Detroit soccer stadium will cost a pretty penny, says county | MLive

Is a jail really what the city needs greeting incoming traffic at one of the main entryways to Downtown Detroit?

Answer: No

That’s what Detroit real estate mogul Dan Gilbert asked Wednesday.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores need to show Evans the money if he’s going to move the unfinished jail project, though.

Gilbert on Wednesday rolled out conceptual renderings and hype videos for a new soccer stadium — and team — in Downtown Detroit.

They want to build it right on Gratiot Avenue, at the site of the stagnant Wayne County Jail project that sits, charmlessly, across from the county courthouse near Greektown.

Source: Jail site for Detroit soccer stadium will cost a pretty penny, says county | MLive

I don’t know the full details of the funding, specifically how much public money would be poured into what is essentially a private endeavor, but Wayne County needs a serious reality check. Their jail is massively over budget and nowhere near completed.

This proposed new development project is basically a “get out of jail free” card, no pun intended. It’s the county’s fault the project failed so far. Getting 20 cents on the dollar, even in their financially strapped state, is better than they deserve. Plus, they’ll stop throwing money into the pit.

I don’t live in Wayne County; if I did, I’d be actively campaigning for the executive team’s ouster, starting with Evans.

I will put in the vote for the Detroit MSL franchise to be the Detroit Arsenal, obviously!

The Dixie Highway & Me

I’m pretty sure my interest in the Dixie Highway began with wondering why there were so many Dixie Highway exits from I-75 in Southeastern Michigan.

My interest in highways and roads started earlier when I was a teen living in Connecticut. Roads and highways throughout New England have colorful histories. Official sites only hint at the local legend and lore. Rich tapestries woven of family histories, geological realities, pre-Revolution decisions, and “because” shaped the paths that became the highways of New England.

Yet that’s not where I started.

Interstate 84 runs through Connecticut connecting Pennsylvania and New York with Massachusetts. It’s a remarkably dull road, no doubt a tribute to its efficiency.

After my family moved to Connecticut in the late 1980s, we traversed that ribbon of concrete many times. I paid keen attention to one sign along the way, a sign that made no sense yet fascinated me to no end.

“I-84 Ends, I-86 to Boston”

It was still I-84 and remains so to this day. Somewhere I have pictures of the I-86 signage in Connecticut, which I think persisted until the 1990s. There’s a whole history behind this – the highway near my house that wasn’t. It kicked off my interest in roads and highways.

Toss in family dynamics – paternal side are Yankees (though didn’t arrive in the US until the 1920-1930s; settling in Michigan, Wisconsin & Minnesota) and maternal side are Dixie (I won’t call them Rebels or Confederates as there’s no documentation my family fought in the Civil War). Come 2000 and I & mine live within a mile of Woodward Avenue.

My interest in the Dixie Highway becomes more clear.

I think.

$21M Dequindre Cut connecting miles of land in Detroit opens Friday | MLive.com

Good stuff. I can’t wait to check it out!

The Dequindre Cut Greenway extension officially opens April 29.

The extension has been in the works since 2013, with the opening pushed back multiple times.

According to a release from Link Detroit, the $21-million project “connects 20 miles of continuous walking and biking paths linking Downtown, Midtown, Detroit Riverfront, Eastern Market and Hamtramck.”

Source: $21M Dequindre Cut connecting miles of land in Detroit opens Friday | MLive.com

Reunited Guns N' Roses confirms Detroit show, but date a mystery

In case you’re a fan or care …

The reunited Guns N’ Roses are planning to go on tour this summer, but haven’t announced exactly when.

… Detroit is on the list, along with 20 others, including Chicago, Pittsburgh and Toronto.

Not only have the dates not yet been announced, but we don’t know the venues.

Source: Reunited Guns N’ Roses confirms Detroit show, but date a mystery

Michigan to Enbridge: Give us understandable pipeline data

Michigan officials are going back to Canadian energy giant Enbridge for more information on the integrity of its controversial Line 5 under the Mackinac straits, but this time they want the company to send data in a usable format.

On March 11, Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette sent a letter to Enbridge Inc. vice president Cynthia Hansen asking for pipeline inspection and operating pressure data in an “unrestricted” form instead of through a “read-only data portal.”

That data portal was a source of frustration for Michigan officials during a yearlong inquiry into the submerged pipeline that resulted in a 2015 report critical of “gaps” in pipeline information that Enbridge says it gave through the limited-access portal.

Enbridge later apologized for sending the data in a format “too complex” for state officials to understand, saying that it might “mean something to someone who has a Ph.D in metallurgical engineering, but its not usable data to many people.”

Source: Michigan to Enbridge: Give us understandable pipeline data

I know companies don’t want to divulge more than they have to in order to conduct business. Things like pipelines, especially ones so old, require objective & current data. That Enbridge is not helpful in this process doesn’t bode well for their chances.

Were I asked to vote on this right now, I would vote to shut the pipeline down.

The Ultimate Detroit Movie Map, From Batman to 8 Mile – Curbed Movie Maps – Curbed Detroit

Making a show in the Show, for sure:

While the Motor City might not be the most filmed location in the nation, it does make an appearance in a myriad of films, including Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, 61*, and Eminem’s 8 Mile. Below, Curbed mapped over 15 films and TV shows that feature Detroit in bright shining lights. You might notice that TV shows and movies like Freaks and Geeks, The Crow, and RoboCop were left off of this map, and that’s because none of them were filmed in the Motor City, despite being set there. Additionally, a few films were left off due to not having any specific addresses found online, such as Evil Dead, which had a few indoor scenes shot in director Sam Raimi’s garage in Royal Oak.

Source: The Ultimate Detroit Movie Map, From Batman to 8 Mile – Curbed Movie Maps – Curbed Detroit

I’m surprised by some of the entries. Sure, I knew about Out of Sight and many others. The Transformers movies are set here? Really?

More Road History

Roads fascinate me – their names, their histories, their stories – to the point that I’ll drop everything to read a tasty tidbit.

Imagine my joy when I read How Livonia Roads Got Their Names from the Detroit Free Press.

To quote from the article:

… the first mile of concrete road in the nation was laid in October 1909 on Woodward Avenue between 6 and 7 Mile roads in what was then Greenfield Township, just outside Detroit.

I did not know that area was Greenfield Township.

Middle Belt Road:

… officially became a road after 1910, when the County Road Commission began assigning names to major roads that went through the county … Intermittently, Middle Belt has been mistakenly signed as a one-word road, “Middlebelt.”

Henceforth I will always refer to Middle Belt, not Middlebelt.

Merriman Road:

… was given that name by the Romulus neighbors of Charles Merriman in 1858 … He died two years later, but his farm, which extended south from Michigan Avenue, remained in the family into the 1920s.

That part of Merriman Road and surrounding farms were acquired for what since has become [DTW] … Merriman continues south from there.

The article contains many tidbits about the major and minor thoroughfares. I provide just a taste. Read the whole article for all the details.

Road Work Blues

I’m not sure who in the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) or the Road Commission for Oakland Country (RCOC) decides that late October is a good time for beginning road work. I’m also not sure who decides how they’ll handle lane closures or sign the work.

And I’m not sure who is actually doing the construction as there were no signs, no trucks, and no workers working.

Whomever they are, they need training.

Case in point: the Woodward Ave/Main St./Washington Ave./I-696 work. There are multiple bad decisions and lack of planning mistakes here.

  1. From Washington Ave to southbound Woodward, two left turn lanes immediately become one after the turn with no warning signage.
  2. From Main St./I-696 westbound access to southbound Woodward, the same issue as above in a different spot.
  3. From eastbound I-696 access to northbound Woodward, the same issue.
  4. I suspect that there are other pain points based on the almost 60 minutes it took me to travel 0.25 miles.

Meanwhile we’re expecting our first snowfall, so this week makes a questionable candidate for road resurfacing.

Have you run into this fine bit of road work? Where are your commute pain points?