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The Roads Less Traveled

Sometimes, it's not the big splashy headlines about political shenanigans or declining employment or dire student test scores that signal the kind of trouble our state is trying to fight its way out of. Sometimes, it's the little-noticed reports that hit the hardest, like the one today from the County Road Association of Michigan.

The County Road Association of Michigan said Tuesday that 35 miles were returned to gravel in 2009. Thirty-eight counties have combined to pulverize about 100 miles of pavement and lay down gravel in the past few years.

The main reason is because counties lack money to reconstruct or repave deteriorating roads.

Like many people around here, I've always felt that metro Detroit set itself up for failure by allowing its dependence on the auto industry to overshadow the need for quality public transportation, and our sprawling, pocked highways and battered road system are, in some ways, part of that legacy. But as the guys over at Michigan Liberal, one of my favorite political blogs, point out, this isn't just about poor planning coming back to bite us, nor is it about troubles in just one corner of the state or another.

I mean, really ... this is just plain ridiculous. This isn't just some partisan foodfight where the Republicans are sticking it to the Democrats by way of refusing to raise taxes, this is the ebbing away of a civilization that has evolved over thousands of years.


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  • 1

    Of the three groups of people, the Urbanites, the Suburbanites, and the Boondockers, it's interesting that the Boondockers seem to revel in gravel roads. They love being in the countryside so their SUV's and pickup truck seem to be just fine for that environment.
    For them, it's a badge of the Boonies.

    But the Boonies are disappearing rather rapidly with all the hideous houses goinng up. Fudor Architecture and all.

    When Engler was Governor I-75 had some horrible stretches. On one Christmas Eve I saw about 18 cars in one area that had been ripped by the potholes.

    The State Police were finally guarding one particularly bad hole.

    It was interesting to see the Editor in Chief of one of the Detroit Newspapers attack the State Highway Department for placing that stretch of I-75 with European Concrete Highway Standards. Problem is, he's dead and that stretch remains the best of all.

    The Inter-Urban electric car lines were said to be fast and wonderful and the beautifully run Canadin Streetcars were reposessed because of Politics.
    And we all know about Al Sloan having that Milwaukee Bus Company move to rid America of it's beautiful streetcars.

    As a teen ager I rode the streetcars and they were smooth and slick. Never forget a Basso Profundo Conductor calling out the street names... it was a song that sent chills dwn your back like Barry White.

    Reinstalling either a StreetCar or Light Rail line up to the New Center is simply not enough.. it must go right on out to Pontiac and back.

    The people mover has never made money and that has to be taken into consideration.

    If Some august Universtiy does not locate a campus right downtown, I fear that a new rail line will have very low ridership.

    The Educated must learn the Value of City too.


    • And I'm cracking up imagining the great Barry White as a street car conductor..."C'mon take this ride with me, baby..."
    • Good stuff. Thanks for chiming in.

  • 2

    I think that a light rail will work out well for the city as long as it is supported well. People will use it but there will need to be some expansion to it. Some will ride their bicycles to it so hopefully there will be some security for that. Also people that live a distance from the rail may need to drive there. so some form of parking will be needed for them also. I'm sure that all of this will be taken into account. But what about people who are on the east side that need to get down town? will there be talk of a Gratiot rail? Detroit to Mt. Clemens in the future?

    I would really like to see this become a reality for the Detroit area and its neighbors. I know that there are a lot of concerns of "will it make it easier for criminals to reach the burbs, sure it might, but I would hazard a guess that a group of thugs all carrying tv's and dvd players on to a rail car would be hard to not notice. So the fears are not grounded in reality. I would hope that the rail would be elevated, as that would be less to construct and to maintain.

  • 3

    robertmprice: You pose a question that I guess is intended as an expression of the sentiments of those in the suburbs..."will it make it easier for criminals to reach the burbs, sure it might..."

    I have a question for you think a light rail system will make it easier for those from the suburbs who supply people in the city with drugs to make even more frequent visits to the city???

  • 4

    @teachtothink: You left out the last part of what I said.. but I would hazard a guess that a group of thugs all carrying tv's and dvd players on to a rail car would be hard to not notice. So the fears are not grounded in reality."

    and to answer your question? No,not at all.... Those who supply the drugs,usually don't deliver to their sellers. But you never know, they may start.

    I did say I was all for the rail.

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