Detroit Light Rail Plan Falls Apart…Again
Once again the story of light rail in Detroit ends with scrapped plans instead of shovels in the ground. The story of failed attempts at mass transit in Metro Detroit reads like a dissertation on all that is dysfunctional with our region…lack of political cooperation, race based decisions, lack of funding, lack of leadership, lack of reason. The story of a viable, efficient, meaningful transportation system in Detroit and its neighboring communities is not over, but this chapter, like all preceding chapters, ends with disappointment. The sad reality is that it will probably be many years before a new chapter is penned. The next chapter will have to wait for new leadership, led by a new generation, and with a new sense of urgency.
It is easy to let the news take the wind out of the sails of progress. It is easy to become discouraged. It is easy to doubt the mechanisms of progress that have been pushing forward the past several years. Be assured, Detroit will continue to move forward. Detroit will continue its path of revitalization. It is easy to let the news of failed rail overshadow the other news reported on December 13th, news that a new boutique hotel will open at the currently abandoned Whitney Building, that Dan Gilbert’s people are buying another downtown property, that a new bed and breakfast is set to open in Corktown. Things will move forward, they may not move by train, but they will move.
We must remember that Detroit’s success will occur despite the actions of our local, regional and state government, not because of it. The real progress happening in Detroit is evidenced by the filling of apartments and lofts, storefronts and bike lanes. Detroit’s real progress being done by residents, not politicians.
It is easy to become disillusioned. It is easy to say that this changes our hope for progress. It is easy to say that the failure of the light rail plan casts doubt on the ability of this region to move forward. However, the true failure would be letting this transit debacle derail all the other individual efforts being made by those committed to seeing Detroit succeed. The death of this project is not the end of the line. It is only a stop along the long track of redevelopment.