I have low expectations for MDOT, the city and 375
As described in the Nov. 24 article, the many critical reactions to the proposed “solution” to replace I-375 and reconnect downtown with the near-east side of Detroit are valid, and should be responded to by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Mayor Mike Duggan and the city’s planning director. (“Parts of I-375 replacement in Detroit would be 9 lanes wide — and community is concerned,” Detroit Free Press, Nov. 24.) My expectations are quite low.
MDOT’s expertise is the movement of cars and trucks — not healing old racial wounds of 70 years ago. The proposed super-wide surface-level boulevard may satisfy traffic planners, but it does nothing to resolve two of the most vexing problems facing Detroit: successful responses to its fraught racial history, and its current inability to provide a viable public transit system that allows residents and suburbanites an attractive alternative to the private automobile.
This may be Motown, but before freeways in the 1950s and 1960s destroyed so many neighborhoods to facilitate white flight, this city had an extensive system of streetcars and bus routes that were an excellent alternative to the congestion, pollution and cost of private car ownership. MDOT doesn’t have a clue about how the creatively resolve either issue. Hence, my low expectations.
Michigan schools need sex ed
I am currently an adolescent sexual health educator in different cities in southeast Michigan.
I am only allowed to teach in the districts that have a fully functional sex ed advisory board, severely limiting the youth I am able to teach. The majority of students in Detroit and southeast Michigan are only taught HIV education briefly, as this is the only requirement per state law. There is no law regarding mandatory comprehensive sex education.
The result of this lack in public policy is an influx of adolescents that do not have knowledge of how their bodies work, how to protect themselves, as well as speak up for themselves. Advocating for youth starts with equipping them with necessary information for their future, and policies and laws are the first step in doing so.
Should Michigan sex ed laws change?Submit a letter to the editor at freep.com/letters.
Automakers should get in on transit action
I certainly don’t disagree with any of the comments made in Michael Griffie’s recent column about transit. (“Gov. Whitmer, it’s time to think big on public transportation in Michigan,” Detroit Free Press, Nov. 20.) But I can only partially agree with the overall substance of suggestions … There are certainly some well-established obstacles to any type of public transit in Detroit, not the least of which has been resistance by the major auto manufacturers that view public transit as a threat to their markets and future sales and profitability. (This is likely one of very few things on which company leaders and union leaders might even agree.)
That said, the time has never been better to advocate on behalf of some type of “improved and well-founded transit system,” and rather than simply continuing to “fight the same old battle.” The auto manufacturers themselves should be engaged as part of the solution, so they can become major beneficiaries of same.
Ford Motor has already invested heavily in a new autonomous vehicle/mobility/electrification campus surrounding the old train station on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Detroit, but their main engineering center and corporate HQ is located in Dearborn.
The two Ford locations have a straight line connection along Michigan Avenue, which is badly in need of major investment and restoration, including blight mitigation.
General Motors also seems heavily committed to electrification and mobility — and they have a situation very similar to Ford’s.
Their headquarters is on the river in downtown Detroit; but their Tech Center (in which they have recently invested several billion dollars) is located in Warren.
The two GM locations also have a straight line connection along Mound Road, also badly in need of major investment and restoration, including blight mitigation.
Why not propose a public-private partnership between federal/state/local governments and private industry to create “mobility corridors” along both Michigan Avenue and Mound Road that would restore the roads and provide specially dedicated lanes for autonomous and electric vehicles — and provide badly needed connectivity between major centers of commerce and technology, with a special focus on the only two remaining “domestic” auto manufacturers that would simultaneously help mitigate the blight along both corridors?
A little brainstorming on such a project would likely uncover many other mutually beneficial synergies that could potentially solve multiple problems all at same time.
The writer is founder and chairman emeritus of DC3S, the Defense Corridor Center for Collaboration and Synergy
Weigh in on public transit:Submit a letter to the editor at freep.com/letters.
Let’s learn from Australian transit
Michael Griffie’s article on transit in southeast Michigan is right on. (“Gov. Whitmer, it’s time to think big on public transportation in Michigan,” Detroit Free Press, Nov. 20.)
I was just in Sydney and Perth, Australia, and both have great transit systems.
Sydney has something akin to the QLine that runs through the Central Business District (CBD). And they have a subway system and buses.
I used Perth’s transit systems more than Sydney’s. In Perth the CBD buses are free. They run four or five color coded lines. I took the train from Fremantle to Perth while sightseeing. Fast and reliable. It cost me $2.30 AUD for the ride.
These are things that keep these cities vibrant.
I don’t agree with the Griffie so much on expanding the Qline up Michigan Avenue or Jefferson Avenue, but he makes a great point about connecting downtown Detroit, DTW and Ann Arbor. This is a case of follow the money. That’s where rail transit would be economically viable.
There has been a lot of talk in the past about mass transit connecting Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties. Forget it. Where is the money/volume to support that mass transit idea? Definitely not in Macomb County. But Ann Arbor has money. Why are we ignoring the link-up between Ann Arbor, DTW and Detroit?
Here’s a great question. How many top U.S. airports are connected vial rail or mass transit systems to their downtown? And where is Detroit in this mix? Nowhere, man.
Grosse Pointe Farms