Light Rail Transit in a Shrinking City

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043787/00001

Material Information

Title: Light Rail Transit in a Shrinking City Defining Success for Detroit's Woodward Avenue Light Rail
Physical Description: 1 online resource (93 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Kain, Jacob I
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: detroit -- transit
Urban and Regional Planning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Urban and Regional Planning thesis, M.A.U.R.P.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Detroit, Michigan is the largest city by population in the United States without rapid transit. A combined public and private initiative has progressed through the FTA New Starts process and appears poised to bring a 9.3-mile light rail line to Woodward Avenue, Detroit's main street, within the five years. Evaluating the context within which this investment is set to occur - amid 60 years of dramatic population decline, extreme levels of racial and economic segregation, local government fragmentation, and municipal budget battles - shows that the project faces significant implementation hurdles. The report also seeks to establish criteria for measuring the success of the project, following implementation, given the wide array of metrics used to evaluate transit investments in other cities in the past. These metrics include meeting budget and ridership projections, creating transit system integration, and positively impacting the efficiency of service provision within Detroit, including but not limited to transit services. Maximizing the utility of the transit investment will positively impact the ability of Detroit to respond to its context of continued population shrinkage and make future rapid transit expansions in Detroit more politically tenable.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jacob I Kain.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.U.R.P.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Steiner, Ruth L.

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Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043787:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043787/00001

Material Information

Title: Light Rail Transit in a Shrinking City Defining Success for Detroit's Woodward Avenue Light Rail
Physical Description: 1 online resource (93 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Kain, Jacob I
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011


Subjects / Keywords: detroit -- transit
Urban and Regional Planning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Urban and Regional Planning thesis, M.A.U.R.P.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: Detroit, Michigan is the largest city by population in the United States without rapid transit. A combined public and private initiative has progressed through the FTA New Starts process and appears poised to bring a 9.3-mile light rail line to Woodward Avenue, Detroit's main street, within the five years. Evaluating the context within which this investment is set to occur - amid 60 years of dramatic population decline, extreme levels of racial and economic segregation, local government fragmentation, and municipal budget battles - shows that the project faces significant implementation hurdles. The report also seeks to establish criteria for measuring the success of the project, following implementation, given the wide array of metrics used to evaluate transit investments in other cities in the past. These metrics include meeting budget and ridership projections, creating transit system integration, and positively impacting the efficiency of service provision within Detroit, including but not limited to transit services. Maximizing the utility of the transit investment will positively impact the ability of Detroit to respond to its context of continued population shrinkage and make future rapid transit expansions in Detroit more politically tenable.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Jacob I Kain.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.U.R.P.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Steiner, Ruth L.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043787:00001

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2 2011 Jacob Isaac Kain


3 To Ashley


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I thank Dr. Ruth Steiner for her humor, friendship, and interest in my personal, professional, and intellectual deve lopment. I thank Dr. Andres Blanco for challenging my perceptions and making economics make sense. I thank my parents for their support and love. And I thank Ashley for encouraging me to try new things to believe in myself, and for always being a willi ng accomplice in our many adventures.


5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ 7 LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... 8 ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 11 2 BACKGROUND ...................................................................................................... 14 The Decline of Detroit ............................................................................................. 14 Deindustrialization ............................................................................................ 14 S uburbanization ............................................................................................... 15 Segregation ...................................................................................................... 17 Urban Renewal Strategies ...................................................................................... 20 Tra nsit in Detroit Today ........................................................................................... 26 Woodward Avenue Light Rail .................................................................................. 29 Summary ................................................................................................................ 35 3 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................... 37 The Growth Machine ............................................................................................... 38 Megaprojects ......................................................................................................... 40 The Revival of Transit in the Era of Do No Harm ................................................. 42 Light Rail and Economic Development ................................................................... 45 Factors Impacting the Success of Lig ht Rail Transit ............................................... 48 Shrinking Cities ....................................................................................................... 50 Summary ................................................................................................................ 51 4 METHODOLOGY .................................................................................................... 53 5 FINDINGS ............................................................................................................... 56 Meeting Budget and Ridership Projections ............................................................. 56 Cre ating an Integrated Transit System ................................................................... 66 Promoting Service Efficiency .................................................................................. 67 Summary ................................................................................................................ 74 6 DISCUSSION ......................................................................................................... 75


6 7 CONCLUSION ........................................................................................................ 81 APPENDIX A WOODWARD AVENUE LAND USE QUANTITATIVE DATA ................................. 83 B DETROIT WORKS PROJECT PROPOSED CITY SERVICE ALLOCATION BY NEIGHBORHOOD .................................................................................................. 86 LIST OF REFERENCES ............................................................................................... 87 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ............................................................................................ 93


7 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 Decline in manufacturing employment in Detroit, 1947 1977 ............................. 15 2 2 Population, land area, and population density of Detroit .................................... 17 2 3 Capital and operating revenues by source in millions ......................................... 34 3 1 LRT station area densities related to capital cost per mile .................................. 47 5 1 Station area population and employment densities within half mile radius ......... 65


8 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Annexation history of Detroit ............................................................................... 16 2 2 The interior of the M ichigan Theater in Detroit. 1927 (left) and 2005 (right). ...... 22 2 3 Renaissance Center ........................................................................................... 23 2 4 Detroit People Mover .......................................................................................... 28 2 6 Artist rendering of Woodward Avenue light rail ................................................... 31 2 7 Woodward Avenue light rail route ....................................................................... 32 5 1 Population density by transportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2000 [actual] ........... 60 5 2 Population density by transportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2030 [estimated] ...... 61 5 3 Employment density by transportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2000 [actual] ........ 62 5 4 Employment density by transportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2030 [estimated] ... 63 5 5 Geographic distribution of Detroit Works Project neighborhood types ................ 73


9 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS BART Bay Area Rapid Transit CBD Cen tral Business District DARTA Detroit Area Regional Transportation Authority DDOT Detroit Department of Transportation DEGC Detroit Economic Growth Corporation DTOGS Detroit Transit Options for Growth FEIS Final Environmental Impact Statement FHA Federal Housing Administration FTA Federal Transit Administration MDOT Michigan Department of Transportation MSA Metropolitan Statistical Area SMART Southeast Michigan Area Rapid Transit TAZ Transit Analysis Zone TIGER Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery TOD Transit Oriented Development


10 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning L IGHT RAIL TRANSIT IN A SHRINKING CITY: DEFINING SUCCESS FOR DETROITS WOODWARD AVENUE LIGHT RAIL By Jacob Isaac Kain December 2011 Chair: Ruth L. Steiner Major: Urban and Regional Planning Detroit, Michigan is the largest city by population in the United States without rapid transit. A combined public and private initiative has progressed through the FTA New Starts process and appears poised to bring a 9.3mile light rail line to Woodward Avenue, Detroits main street, within the five years Evaluating the context within which this investment is set to occur amid 60 years of dramatic population decline, extreme levels of racial and economic segregation, local government fragmentation, and municipal budget battles shows tha t the project faces significant implementation hurdles. The report also seeks to establish criteria for measuring the success of the project, following implementation, given the wide array of metrics used to evaluate transit investments in other cities in the past. These metrics include meeting budget and ridership projections, creating transit system integration, and positively impacting the efficiency of service provision within Detroit, including but not limited to transit services. Maximizing the uti lity of the transit investment will positively impact the ability of Detroit to respond to its context of continued population shrinkage and make future rapid transit expansions in Detroit more politically tenable.


11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Stories about t he rebirth of Detroit have been written with nearly the same frequency as its obituary. Two decades ago, the ABC N ews magazine Primetime Live (1990) ran a sensational special report entitled Detroits Agony. Anchor Diane Sawyer stated: Our first story is not a story about a city. It is a story about some Americans who may be sending a kind warning to the rest of us. A warning about what can happen when bitter polarization takes over the place where you live. In this community, the rich are divided fr om the poor, the races divided from each other, and its all compounded by violence and drugs. We are talking about Detroit. Once a symbol of U.S. competitive vitality. And some say still a symbol, a symbol of the future: the first urban domino to fall. The story that followed was full of imagery that still exemplifies Detroit: abandoned buildings, abundant crime, and the roaring fires of Devils Night1. Although all of these challenges remain, there have been highly visible signs of change in the city over the intervening two decades. With new stadiums and casinos, investment has come downtown, drawing money from the suburbs and beyond, while also providing dramatic images of revitalization. Businesses have followed, including high profile firms incl uding Compuware Quicken Loans and Ernst & Young. New hotels have opened, most notably the restoration of the historic Book Cadillac Hotel by the Westin chain. At the same time, the population of the city has fallen to new lows, unemployment continues to exceed national and state averages, and extreme racial segregation continues. Many of the troubles Primetime Live highlighted in 1990 existed in 1970 and 1950 and continue to haunt the city today. 1 Devils night is October 30th, the night before Halloween. Hundreds of arsons would typically occur each year. This activity peaked in the early 1980s but continues to this day.


12 The City of Detroit and the downtown development community have most recently committed their energies and in the case of development interests, substantial private funding toward the introduction of light rail transit on Woodward Avenue, Detroits main street. This 9.3mile light rail project woul d be the first surface rapid transit in Detroit since 1956, sending a powerful message that Detroit is more than just the Motor City. Nevertheless, the context in which Detroit pursues this major infrastructure investment is one of extreme, longterm decline. The 2010 U.S. Census shows the population losses have not stabili zed. In fact, the 25% decline in population since 2000 was the largest percentage drop in population since the population peaked in the 1950 census. The 713,777 residents counted in 2010 reside in a city known as well for its violent crime (secondhighest per capita violent crime rate among large cities in 2010) as its automobile industry. The city struggles to provide basic services to its residents from snow and trash removal to education and public safety. As such, the additional (and costly) infrastructure system could bear a potential burden without proper planning and thoughtful implementation. Detroit may be the exemplar of urban decline, but it is not alone. Cities thr oughout the country have experienced booms and busts, attempting to regain their prominence, or at least stem the decline, with mixed success. New York City was once on the brink of bankruptcy, while the river in Cleveland famously caught fire. New York has reinvented itself by focusing on a FIRE (finance, insurance, and real estate) based economy, while Cleveland has continued to decline while pursuing many entertainment based strategies (creating a waterfront district including the Rock and Roll Hall of


13 Fame). Detroit has more often than not followed the Cleveland strategy, using big and expensive projects to make a grand gesture about the future of the city. Over the last sixty years, freeways, stadiums, casinos, and office towers have been pointed to as signs that Detroit was poised for renaissance. It is unsurprising that politicians would desire such grand gestures as symbols of their administrative success. However, no amount of optimism can or, indeed, has stopped, much less slowed, Detroit s decline. Only recently has a Detroit mayor, Dave Bing, indicated tentatively that Detroit cannot continue to provide services at the same level and in the same way that it did at its peak. His Detroit Works Project promises to be the first serious attempt by the city to reconfigure itself in a way that is financially sustainable. The question investigated here is how and if the planned light rail for Woodward Avenue can be viable in a shrinking city An analysis of literature related to major public investments in the post World War II decades which were characterized by the decline of many northern, industrial cities both in terms of regional, national, and global prominence shows that the Woodward Avenue light r ail project is consistent with a traditional, growth oriented response. A review of project planning documents and news articles also supports the growth orientation of the project, despite ample evidence that growth is unlikely. Thus, measuring success by growth is likely to leave t he project rated a failure. An alternate evaluation that is indicative of success as a transit mode and supports the capacity of Detroit to provide efficient services to its citizens is proposed.


14 CHAPTER 2 BACKGROUND The Decline of Detroit The riots of 1967 were the most vivid manifestation of the agonizing collapse that has afflicted Detroit. Yet, the mayhem five days that were the largest of several 1960s urban riots in the U.S. was not the root cause of Detroits collapse. Instead, several se rious, underlying conditions fueled not only those five days of rioting, but also nearly 60 years of gradual decline. Among the most important of those conditions were deindustrialization, suburbanization, and segregation. Each of these conditions is int erwoven with the others, creating a downward spiral that no single person or strategy has been able to overcome to date. These issues remain important because they continue to impact Detroit and lead the city in pursuit of strategies to stop or overcome t hem. Deindustrialization Automobile manufacturing has long been the lifeblood of the Detroit economy, exemplified by its common nickname, The Motor City. This dependence upon the auto industry, however, has not been without its problems. Many casual observers mark the beginning of Detroits decline with the 1967 riots, yet Sugrue (1996) identified major changes to the structure of manufacturing that began in the 1950s as the root of the Citys decline. Sugrue (1996) notes that the following changes t o manufacturing negatively affected Detroit: Major investments in the Sunbelt states following World War II; Technological improvements that allowed for automated manufacturing systems, a technology which dictated horizontally, rather than vertically, or iented factors, most


15 easily built on suburban and rural sites with the prerequisite abundance of land; and The firm grip of unions in Detroit that increased wages and bred conflict with business leaders. As a result, even as Detroits home industry and the big three automakers thrived in the post war decade the city was rarely the beneficiary of that growth. Between 1947 and 1958, Sugrue (1996) found, the Big Three [General Motors Ford and Chrysler ] built twenty five new plants in the metropoli tan Detroit area, all of them in suburban communities, most more than fifteen miles from the center city (p. 128). The cumulative result of these changes was a sharp decline in manufacturing employment in the City of Detroit. The number of firms and t he number of employees in manufacturing employment were halved betwee n 1947 and 1977 ( Table 2 1 ). As firms and jobs left the City, so too did many of its residents. As discussed later in this chapter, a variety of strategies have been pursued to slow or reverse these trends to little avail. Table 2 1. Decline in m anufacturing e mployment in Detroit, 19471977 1947 1954 1958 1963 1967 1972 1977 Manufacturing f irms 3272 3453 3363 3370 2947 2398 1954 Total manufacturing e mployment a 338.4 296.5 204.4 200 .6 209.7 180.4 153.3 Total production e mployment a 281.5 232.3 145.1 141.4 149.6 125.8 107.5 a In thousands Suburbanization As industry moved out of the city of Detroit, so did its citizens, particularly white citizens. However, unlike other cities in the U.S., Detroiters were not fleeing due to overcrowding or substandard housing stock. As Sugrue (1996) noted, Detroit was and remains a city of primarily single and twofamily homes. By 1926, the city had sprawled to its current 138 square miles of area, although many of these areas did not


16 develop until following World War II ( Figure 2 1 ). At its peak, Detroit experienced rapid population growth, much of it the result of rural migrants from the South lured by the promise of steady employment in t he myriad factories. Figure 21. Annexation h istory of Detroit For those who found employment in those factories (particularly whites), the standard of living in Detroit was among the highest in the nation. Outside the glitzy neighborhoods within the city that were home to industry titans, most of Detroit was a low density sprawl of simple, brick and alumi num sided bungalows These homes were, ironically, almost identical to those found in the simultaneously developing suburban areas of Detroit. Thus, suburbanization in Detroit was less a pursuit of prototypical suburban housing stock, as this stock existed in abundance within the city Instead, suburbanization occurred both due to the pull of jobs and a desire to flee the City of Detroit, in large part due to the pressures of racial change (Thomas, 1997) The immensity of the population loss is staggering. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, only 713,777 people resided in the city of Detroit, which is less than onefifth


17 the total population of the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Detroits population has declined by more than 60% since 1950 ( Table 2 2) while the citys spatial area has remained unchanged. The result is an oversupply of infrastructure and extremely low property values, which has fueled widespread abandonment. Table 2 2. Population, l and area, and population density of Detroit Population Land a rea (sq miles) Land a rea (acres) Population density per a cre 1920 993,078 77 49,280 20 1950 1,849,568 139 88,960 21 1970 1,511,482 138 88,320 17 199 0 1,027,974 138 88,320 12 2010 713,777 138 88,320 8 Adapted from Gibson, 1998. Segregation S uburbanization of both housing and jobs in Detroit has been accelerated by racial issues that have been an issue in the Detroit area for decades The Great Migration of African Americans from the South to the industrialized North during the early decades of the twentieth century was accompanied by a similarly large influx of poor Southern whites. These migrants were pulled to Detroit by the promise of high wages within its factories. From the start, however, this migration fueled intense conflict. The conflict was born out of competition for jobs, housing, and status. This competition created coalitions based around religion, ethni city, and as the black population grew race. In the job market, black Detroiters encountered persistent discrimination and instability, creating an underclass of poor, uneducated, and unemployed blacks. In addition, housing options for blacks were severely limited; housing available to blacks was typically older and substandard, and the supply was substantially insufficient, creating overcrowding and worsening already poor conditions.


18 This situation was self perpetuating, as the poor conditions furthered stereotypes about blacks among whites, which in turn produced greater interest in preserving the homogeneity of white neighborhoods. Homeowners associations, deed covenants, steering by realtors, and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan practices all perpetuated the divide of whites and blacks in Detroit. As witnessed in 1943 and again in 1967, these tensions boiled over into full fledged mayhem. The resulting violence particularly the fiveday 1967 event that was ended after intervention by t he National Guard furthered the detachment of whites from the city of Detroit and the ongoing conflict between Detroit and its predominantly white suburbs. Clemens (2006) wrote in his memoir of growing up white in the increasingly black Detroit that, f rom the first moment of the riots, many white Detroiters ceased, in their hearts, to be Detroiters (p. 33). As neighborhoods that were at one time defended from invasion by black residents began to integrate, they quickly became all black to the point that once predominantly white Detroit is today more than 80% black. In turn, fleeing whitesfound protection behind the visible and governmentally defended municipal boundaries of suburbia. The metropolitan area of Detroit continued to grow while the city lost residents, businesses, and tax revenues By 1980, metropolitan Detroit had eighty six municipalities, forty five townships, and eighty nine school districts (Sugrue, 1996, p. 266). The State of Michigans strong home rule tradition prevented t he City from annexing suburban areas and further reinforced the city suburb divide (Thomas, 1997). This fragmentation has complicated efforts to not only stabilize Detroit but also to forge regional cooperation on other matters.


19 The city that remained in the wake of this exodus was increasingly poor and unable to maintain its infrastructure or fund even basic services The remaining black population quickly assumed power within the city, a point of pride after decades of marginalization and disenfranchisement. Riding this wave of black power was Coleman A. Young, a controversial and notoriously foul mouthed politician who became Detroits first black mayor in 1973, serving until 1993. Young famously stirred up this city suburb, black white divide in his initial inaugural address when he stated, I issue a warning to all those pushers, to all rip off artists, to all muggers: Its time to leave Detroit; hit Eight Mile Road (McGraw, 2005). Eight Mile Road forms Detroits northern boundary and is a literal and figurative dividing line between black Detroit and its white suburbs. The net result of this ongoing racial conflict is a city and metropolitan area that are deeply segregated. The U.S. Census analyzed five indices of segregation dissimilarity, iso lation, delta, absolute centralization, and spatial proximity and found that Detroit had the highest dissimilarity of the nations 43 largest metropolitan areas and the second highest overall segregation when considering all five indices (2005). Racial and economic dissimilarity indexes that measure the degree of integration versus segregation on a scale of 0 to 100 also show that Detroit is among the most segregated in the nation. The result is divergent economic opportunities for blacks and whites, w ith black increasingly on the losing end With relatively few whites remaining in Detroit, a more prevalent demographic issue facing the city today is the movement of middle and upper class blacks from the city. It is in this context of continued decline that the city has struggled to develop solutions. In too many cases, the pursuit of cures to the


20 issues facing Detroit has resulted in the embracing of quick but nonetheless very expensive fixes. Urban Renewal Strategies Megaproject based revitalization strategies have dominated revitalization efforts in Detroit for decades. Like cities throughout the nation, Detroit desperately sought to maintain its relevance in an increasingly suburban America and an increasingly global world Urban renewal, inf rastructure investment, and other largescale projects were each heralded as indications of the rebirth of the city. Yet, these projects rarely produced the projected benefits and, in most cases, have exacted negative, unintended consequences. Detroit cl eared blighted areas to build modernistic, high rise housing projects, expand medical facilities, and provide room for industrial expansion (Darden, Hall, Thomas, & Thomas, 1990). As the Motor City, it should come as no surprise that the development of roads particularly interstates was one of the first and largest components of Detroits post war urban renewal strategy. Jackson (1985) wrote the private car was initially regarded as the very salvation of the city (p. 163164). It was therefore with great vigor that cities, most especially Detroit, undertook the task of improving the built environment to facilitate travel by automobile. Detroit holds title to many such firsts in the nation: first mile of concrete highway (1909), first four way r ed/yellow/green traffic light (1918), first super highway (1923), and first depressed urban expressway (1942) (Michigan Department of Transportation, n.d.). The first two were achieved on Woodward Avenue. Metropolitan Detroit now contains thirteen indiv idually designated expressways, seven of which are at least partially routed through the city. Expressways were initially


21 viewed as essential to the health of the city. In time, however, the numerous negative affects for the city became clear. Expressways cut through urban neighborhoods, typically those of poor and black citizens (Thomas, 1997) This further reduced the affordable housing supply in the city and devastated many of black Detroits most important business, cultural, and social institutions Neighborhoods in proximity to the new thoroughfares tended to decline quickly; The FHA made it a policy not to make loans in areas where highways were to be built, or within three hundred feet of expressway rights of way. Hence, the construction of th e Lodge [M 10, which parallels Woodward Avenue] further depressed housing values in the area (Sugrue, 1996, p. 353). The expressways also facilitated suburbanto downtown commuting by car. Eventually, this was succeeded by suburbto suburb commuting vi a highways such as Interstate 696 and Interstate 275 that connected areas around Detroit. This further encouraged low density, autocentric development patterns; today, metropolitan Detroit is more than 2,000 square miles in size (Visit Detroit, 2010). U ltimately, this development pattern created a reliance on the automobile for mobility, reduced the viability of transit, reduced the prominence of downtown Detroit as a regional center, and encouraged the conversion of large, old, expensiveto maintain, and increasingly underutilized downtown buildings into parking facilities ( Figure 2 2 ). This pattern continues today. The Michigan Department of Transportation is currently pursuing the reconstruction of I 94 through the eastern part of the Detroit; the reconstruction will increase the number of lanes from 3 to 4 in each direction (Michigan DOT, 2010).


22 Figure 22 The i nterior of the Michigan Theater in Detroit. 1927 (left) and 2005 (right) Detroits leaders saw and continue to see roads and freeways as engines of economic development. In reality, though, Detroits central business district (CBD) began to decline quickly followi ng World War II in spite of and in part because of the new mobility and accessibility these new thoroughfares created. As a result, the business community began to seek a project that would send a strong signal about the preeminence of Detroits CBD. The result was the Renaissance Center ( Figure 23 ) The purpose of the Renaissance Center is a component of its name. Proponents major business interests that included Henry Ford II saw the Renaissance Center as the key to reversing Detroits fortunes. According to the Detroit News, the project was born out of the dreams of business, industrial, and civic leaders dedicated to


23 Figure 23 Renaissance Center stimulating an economic boom in Detroit (2001). One of the largest private urban redevelopments of its era, the Renaissance Center was first conceived in 1970 and opened in 1976. As a collection of glass towers, the Renaissance Center is Detroits tallest building and one of its most distinctive landmarks. Unfortunately, the Renaissance Center is a creature of its time in history. Like the freeways, the Renaissance Center was built around the automobile, and its impac t on


24 the CBD was negative in many respects. P rimary among the failures is the relationship or lack thereof of the complex to the City around it. At street level, the complexs tall granite fortifications left the surrounding streets devoid of both bodies and eyes, important elements of a successful urban place (a problem only somewhat remedied by major renovations made when General Motors purchased the Renaissance Center in 1996). That problem is further compounded by the centers city within a city style, which by design seeks to provide tenants and visitors with everything they could need within its heated and cooled atriums. Instead of bustling streets, the Renaissance Center was surrounded by wide boulevards and acres of surface parking lots. S econd, the sheer immensity of the Renaissance Center more than 5 million total square feet of office, retail, and hotel space exacerbated oversupply issues in an already declining downtown real estate market. In 2009, the central business district had 48 empty buildings higher than five stories and/or with more than 10,000 square feet and an off ice vacancy rate of 27.8% (Oosting, 2009). The Renaissance Center itself has struggled to maintain tenants throughout its history, a problem only partially res olved when General Motors consolidated operations in the complex after purchasing the building in 1996. While private companies spent over $300 million constructing the Renaissance Center in the 1970s, the public contributed hundreds of millions of dollar s to the construction of new stadiums in downtown Detroit during the 1990s and 2000s. Like earlier redevelopment projects, a small cadre of powerful business and government figures pushed these investments forward as a tool for economic growth. Bachelor (1998) noted that stadium investments were largely seen as a means of enhancement


25 of the image of a city and the reputation of its mayor along with other intangible benefits (p. 89). While stadiums offer the promise of increased tourism and spending by out of towners (including suburbanites), they are not major job creators, and the jobs they do create are imperfect substitutes for the manufacturing jobs they must replace ( Rappaport & Wilkerson, 2001; Baade, 1996; Eisinger, 2000) In 2000, Comerica Pa rk the new home of b aseballs Detroit Tigers opened on the edge of downtown. It was followed by its neighbor and new home for footballs Detroit Lions Ford Field in 2002. At the time of its opening, Mayor Dennis Archer commented that Comerica Park will help restore the excitement of urban living that has been missing far too long from dow ntown Detroit (Christian, 2000). Despite the fact that Detroits decline has continued in the decade since their opening, rumors continue to abound about add itional stadium development downtown. One rumored stadium would replace downtowns existing Joe Louis Arena as the home of hockey s Detroit Red Wings and possibly also host basketball s Detroit Pistons who currently play in suburban Auburn Hills. As i n the past, city leaders including current Mayor Dave Bing, himself a former Detroit Pistons player enthusiastically embrace the idea. The news is early, but promising," Karen Dumas, chief communications officer for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, told the Detroit Free Press "The City of Detroit is excited about the opportunity of welcoming the Pistons back home" (Gallagher, 2010). This is despite little evidence to show that the cost of new stadiums is justified by the realized benefits. Like the stadiums, casinos came to fruition in Detroit after years of advocacy by many powerful people including Mayor Young who felt that casinos would bring much needed jobs and tax revenue to a city lacking both. In the 1990s and 2000s,


26 three casinos opened fir st in temporary facilities and then permanent locations scattered throughout the downtown region. The casinos are credited with the creation of 8,000 jobs (less than the 11,000 initially projected) and, according to former Mayor Dennis Archer, provided tax revenue that saved Detroit from bankruptcy (Pulley, 1998; Coolidge, 2010). Unfortunately, as with the Renaissance Center and Stadiums, spill over affects have been limited. In particular, the dispersed, highway adjacent locations of two of the casinos greatly reduce the potential for impact outside casino doors. Transit in Detroit Today Although the automobile has dominated Detroits economy for over a century, it did not always dominate the way that Detroiters traversed the community. In fact, before 1956, Detroit had an abundance of transportation options, including streetcars and commuter rail. Numerous plans have been proposed for new public transportation systems, but only one proposal was actually built: the Detroit People Mover. For nearly fifty years, public transportation in Detroit and its suburbs has been limited and unquestionably substandard. The c ity of Detroit and Woodward Avenue in particular, have a long history with public transportation. On Woodward, a horsedrawn rail system began in 1863, which was converted to electric rail in 1892 (Detroit DOT, 2011, p. 4 13). In 1922, when the City of Detroit assumed ownership of the public streetcar lines, it became the largest such municipal system in the country (Transportation Riders Uni ted n.d. ). Ridership peaked in 1945 with nearly 500 million streetcar rides that year (Transportation Riders United). Only eleven years later, in 1956, the last streetcars ran along Detroits streets, replaced by bus transit. This conversion, which occ urred throughout the nation, has long been the subject of conspiracy theories, most centered on Detroits own General


27 Motors, who supplied many of the buses that replaced fleets of streetcars. This conspiracy is imbedded in the culture, epitomized by its key role in the plot of 1988s feature film Who Framed Roger Rabbit Regardless of the role of General Motors or any conspiracy in the conversion, today, no local surface rail transit exists in Detroit. The only nonbus transit option is the Detroit People Mover, which is an elevated, fixed guideway monorail ( Figure 2 4 ) The Detroit People Mover opened to the public on 1987. On the day of the People Movers opening, The New York Times remarked that : The 2.9 mile monorail, once considered a possible savior of the city's dying center, is now being greeted with both the excitement of a child trying out a new toy and the dread of a parent wondering what will go wrong first. (Wilkerson, 1987) Envisioned as the hub of a regional rapid transit system that never came to be, the Detroit People Mover is a train without a destination; the one way loop is at most 1 mile in diameter; it is often faster (and cheaper) to walk between the destinations the Detroit People Mover serves. Initially projected to have 55,000 riders per day, officials cut that projection by nearly 70% by opening day in 1987. In 2005, it carried only 6,000 passengers per day, barely 10% of original projections (Wilkerson, 1987; Dutta & Tadi, 2005). It has also suffered from ongoing operatio n issues, including lengthy closures due to damage from the implosion of the Hudsons Department Store building in 1998 and again in 2011 after bricks fell from adjacent buildings during severe weather. Metropolitan Detroit continues to lack regional rapid transit, as well as any regional transportation authority. As a byproduct of the regions fragmentation and inherent city suburb divide, Detroit and its suburbs have two separate transportation systems: Detroit


28 Figure 24 Detroit People Mover Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Southeast Michigan Area Rapid Transit (SMART). In addition, the D etroit P eople M over is operated by a separate public authority, the Detroit Transportation Corporation, which is overseen by the City of Detroit. Transit advocates have long sought a regional transportation authority to oversee mass transportation throughout metropolitan Detroit. In 2002, an authority interlocal government agreement created the Detroit Area Regional Transpor tation Authority (DARTA) Ultimately, however, that agreement was suspended by the M ichigan Supreme Court in 2006 (Michigan House of Representatives, 2009). A unified regional


29 transportation authority that includes Detroit and its suburbs has since remained elusive. Woodward Avenue Light Rail The City of Detroit is now undertaking the most serious pursuit of fixedguideway mass transit since the People Mover. Supporters hope that this project will be a step toward the regional rapid transit system that never came to be in the previous century. The proposed alignment is along Woodward Av enue, a roadway steeped in history in the Detroit area and the nation. Woodward Avenue is the primary surface roadway in the City of Detroit as well as the Detroit Metropolitan Area ( Figure 25 ). This has been the case since Judge Augustus Woodward laid o ut a new radial roadway network for Detroit inspired by LEnfants plan for Washington, D.C. following a fire in 1805. The primary street that today bears his name has been home to many notable firsts: the first mile of concrete roadway and the first t hree color traffic light among them (Woodward Avenue Action Agency, n.d.). The road stretches for 27 miles northwest from the Detroit River in downtown Detroit to the City of Pontiac in Oakland County. The cross section varies throughout the length of the road, but it is a large and heavily trafficked roadway throughout. From its southern terminus at Jefferson Avenue in downtown, the roadway has 6 to 8 divided lanes north to Campus Martius. Between Campus Martius and Grand Circus, the roadway is its nar rowest 4 undivided lanes. From Grand Circus to McNichols (7 Mile) Road, Woodward is primarily a 6 lane roadway with onstreet parking and center turn lane. For the remainder of its length, Woodward has 8 to 10 divided lanes with large


30 Figure 25 Woodward Avenue. View n orthwest in D owntown Detroit center medians and some onstreet parking; near the proposed terminus of the light rail, just south of 8 Mile Road, Woodward Avenue exceeds 170 feet curbto curb. In 2009, average traffic counts ranged from 18,300 in the New Center Area to 61,000 at the extreme northern end near Pontiac in suburban Bloomfield Hills (Michigan Dep artment of Transportation, 2009a ). In Detroit, two freeways provide a convenient alternate to Woodward Avenue for both local and through traffic. With 8 total travel lanes each, the John C. Lodge Freeway [M 10] colloquially known as The Lodge, is to it s east, running from downtown to the northwest suburb of Southfield. To the west, the Chrysler Freeway [I 75] continues its route through the City as it runs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Within the city of Detroit, these


31 fr eeways carry up to 143,300 and 152,100 average daily trips, respectively (Michigan Department of Transportation, 2009a ). Woodward Avenue light r ail was selected as the locally preferred alternative through the Detroit Transit Options for Growth Study (DT OGS), which began in 2006 to coordinate local planning efforts and lay the foundation for receipt of federal funds for additional transit service. Figure 2 6 shows an artist rendering of the future rail line. Other options considered were a nobuild scen ario, the use of bus rapid transit, or alignment along one of Detroits other radial avenues, Gratiot or Michigan. Figure 26 Artist rendering of Woodward Avenue light r ail At the same time that the City was completing DTOGS, a coalition of downtown business interests formed M 1 Rail to plan a privately funded light rail streetcar [Woodward Avenue is designated as M 1 as part of the state highway sy stem]. Wayne Countys 2008 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy stated that the current lack of effective mass transit has been identified as a major liability in its economic development efforts (p. 16). Members of the coalition include Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans ; the quasi public Downtown Development Authority; Henry Ford Health System ;


32 Mike Ilitch, owner of the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, and Little Caesars ; Peter Karmanos, Jr. of the Compuware Corporation; The Kresge Foundation (a private foundation established by the owners of the company that became Kmart); Roger Penske of the Penske Foundation, and Wayne State University. The availability Figure 27 Woodward Avenue light r ail r oute


33 of private funds from M 1 Rail was crucial to secure $25 million in federal funding through a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. Since 2009, the project has been unified under the direction of the DDOT. The unified proposal calls for a 9.3 mile light rail line (Figure 2 7) with two phases: the first from downtown to West Grand Boulevard (approximately 3.4 miles), and the second from West Grand Boulevard to the State Fairgrounds just south of 8 Mile Road near Detroits northern border (U.S. Department of Transportation). The entire project estimated to cost $450500 million with $125 million coming from M 1 Rail contributors and the rest coming from the TIGER grant and a 60% expected contribution from the Federal Transportation Administrations New Starts Program. Table 2 3 provides a complete breakdown of the expected sources of construction and operations funding for the project. Construction of the first phase could begin as soon as late 2011, with the entire line complete by 2016 (U.S. Department of Transpo rtation). Assuming these and many other challenges can be overcome and the project is completed, the resulting light rail line will connect many of the metropolitan areas major institutions. Detroit City Hall, Fox Theater, Comerica Park, Ford Field, Det roit Medical Center, Wayne State University, The College for Creative Studies, Veterans Hospital, Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit Public Library, and Palmer Park are among the major activity generators along the corridor. All except for Palmer Park are located along the Phase I section of the light rail project, which encompasses the Downtown, Midtown, and New Center areas. According to the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), a non profit economic development organization there have been 79 projects


34 residential, commercial, institutional, or mixed use in these areas valued at more than $6 billion since 1997 (DEGC, 2011). Table 2 3. Capital and operating revenues by s ource in m illions Capital r evenues Source Amount Sale of $125 million in capital grant receipts revenue bonds by the Detroit Department of Transportation. The estimated annual $10 million interest payments on the bonds will be paid from other annual federal grants received by DDOT. 73 Previously received federal transportation grants to DDOT 12 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant 25 M 1 Rail cash d onation and a ssembled tax b reaks (such as New Markets Tax Credit) 100 FTA New Starts f unding (pending) 318 TOTAL 528 Operating Revenues So urce Amount Fares 2.8 Federal congestion mitigation and air quality grants 5 State f unding 7 Federal Section 5309 Fixed Guideway Modernization f unds 1 City of Detroit General Fund 2 TOTAL 17.8 The Phase II area from Grand Boulevard north has seen significantly less revitalization. Along the 5.9 miles of Phase II you will see a variety of land uses, including many autooriented retail strips, historic churches, vacant lots, parks, and residential neighborhoods. Phase II will also pass through another municipality, Highland Park, a city that (along with the City of Hamtramck to its east) is wholly contained within the City of Detroit. Approximately 2 miles of the proposed alignment


35 and 2 proposed stations are within Highland Park (a third station, at McNichols Road, is adjacent to Highland Parks northern border). Highland Park, although significantly smaller than Detroit in both population and area, has experienced comparable decline; once a prosperous town riding the boom of the auto industry, its population has plummeted to a fifth its high in the 1930 census, and by 30% between 2000 and 2010, to a 2010 census population of 11,776. Summary The context within which the city of Detroit seeks to build its first true light rail line is one of bot h physical and emotional abandonment. In large part, Detroit is a victim of its own success. The industries that once undergirded its stupendous growth in term set the stage for its stupendous decline. Economic restructuring on a regional, national, and global level has left Detroit with tremendous problems. The influx of new residents in the boom times created housing pressures. Racial discrimination and animosity and local, state, and federal policies fueled suburbanization. Falling population and growing levels of racial isolation lead Detroit, like many other urban areas, to vigorously utilize urban renewal strategies to stem the losses. In Detroit, these strategies were largely insufficient to reverse the larger trends impacting the city. Never theless, the city has continually pursued project based solutions to stop or reverse the ongoing decline. The latest is the Woodward Avenue light r ail projec t Although Detroit once had an extensive transit system, the city currently has only a bus syst em and a small elevated streetcar the Detroit People Mover that encircles the CBD. Woodward Avenue is Detroits central corridor and connects many of the citys major institutions and


36 destinations. The 9.3mile long project, if completed, will connec t these institutions and potentially provide a foundation for more extensive regional light rail transit.


37 CHAPTER 3 LITERATURE REVIEW Prior to World War II, Detroit had multiple private transportation companies that offered a variety of services (Transpor tation Riders United, n.d.) These services often supported land speculation because convenient transportation was a major selling point to the growing middle classes who sought the space and amenities of a home located further from the city center. However, transit companies began to struggle after World War II, no longer able to sustain themselves through land development revenues. In order to maintain services, municipal governments were also slowly absorbing these companies, as they were unable to rai se fares due to restrictive municipal contracts. Throughout those early years of public ownership, transit investment steeply declined. In particular, rail expansion came to a halt. Throughout the nation rail systems were replaced by bus service or clos ed entirely. In the last forty years, however, rail has experienced somewhat of a revival. During this period, several light rail transit projects have been implemented in the United States with many more proposed. The rebirth of rail can be seen as a result of shifting norms in the design and implementation of megaprojects. New alliances developed around mass transit investment between growth machine members and traditional adversaries have also contributed to resurrecting rail (Logan & Molotch, 2007) This new coalition shares a desire for expanded transit but for drastically different reasons. Consisting of downtown landowners, civic leaders, and the media, among others, the growth machine sees light rail as a tool for economic development; this was also how their predecessor transit companies viewed it. Their once and sometimes still adversaries such as environmental groups and inner city residents see transit investment as a means to


38 increase mobility and decrease automobile use (Logan & Molotch, 2007) Today, this diverse coalition remains intact despite little evidence that light rail achieves any of the benefits to degree projected and frequent costs that far exceed initial estimates. The City as a Growth Machine is a helpful lens through which to examine the political dynamics that drive urban development decision making. Often, the growth machine is project focused, and prior research has illustrated the shift in these projects from those that had major, inequitable impacts on l ocal residents to lower impact projects, including transit. This shift to transit projects has raised the question of what impact light rail has on growth and economic dev elopment as well as the factors that are positively or negatively correlated with li ght rail success. In particular, those issues must be understood within the context of a shrinking city. The Growth Machine Logan and Molotch (2007) propose the concept of The City as a Growth Machine. They write that: Elites use their growth consensus to eliminate any alternative vision of the purpose of local government or the meaning of community (p. 51). The growth machine is a term used to describe the coalition of local elites that including business leaders, politicians, the media, and utili ty companies. A typical growth machine approach to city shrinkage would focus on what Logan and Molotch (2007) term unused capacities (p. 86), of which cities like Detroit have no shortage. Yet, the growth machine combined with major infrastructure inv estment can create a vicious cycle of crisis oriented growth addiction, (p. 87) undergirded by extravagant claims that growth solves problems (p. 85). Too often, cities addicted to growth struggle to provide even basic services to their residents. T he Growth Machine typically espouses strategies of renewal intended


39 to increase spending of tourist dollars often by suburban residents through the construction of entertainment venues such as stadiums, casinos, and the li ke. Elsinger (2000) highlight s the issues associated with the shift of municipal priorities from basic service provision which typically benefitted people of all classes to entertainment: Today, however, the city as a place to play is manifestly built for the middle classes, who can afford to attend professional sporting events, eat in the new outdoor cafs, attend trade and professional conventions, shop in the festival malls, and patronize the high and middlebrow arts. Many, if not most, of these are visitors to the city, and in the view of local leaders, they must be shielded from the citys residents. The city is no longer regarded as the great melting pot, the meeting place of diverse classes and races. (p. 317) Teaford (1990) concludes that the emphasis on physical stra tegies for urban improvement at the expense of more equitable solutions was unsurprising. Though the residents of decaying neighborhoods may have favored action to curb decline, the loudest crying about the signs of impending doom came from downtown real estate interests threatened by falling property values and harried mayors facing fiscal crisis because of the drop in assessed valuations. In their minds blight was a physical phenomenon, and the best means to combat it was increased investment in the cons truction of private and public facilities under their control. Physical rejuvenations would bolster their positions; social change would undermine them. Thus physical solutions seemed most desirable. (Teaford, 1990, p. 12) The allure of entertainment b ased redevelopment strategies is strong. Cities like Detroit, in particular, view it as an essential means to rehabilitate tarnished images. McCarthy (2002) studies Detroits embrace of these strategies and f inds that most major projects developed in rece nt years such as new stadiums for the Detroit Lions and Detroit Tigers are primarily about image building. Although McCarthy (2002) f inds some limited evidence of impact from these projects on employment and redevelopment, these results were tempered by his observation that these benefits


40 were fundamentally flawed as a mechanism of bringing about broadly based regeneration and further may increase problems of social injustice and exclusion (p. 110). Rail is often part of the overall entertainm ent based redevelopment strategy. In part, this is because of the poor image of bus transit, particularly among choice riders who might otherwise use a private vehicle to travel to inner city destinations. Elsinger (2000) notes that the few annual riders the Detroit People Mover attracts are primarily tourists and suburban residents circulating between downtown restaurants and entertainment venues. Mackett and Edwards (1998) attempt to uncover the reasons why rail was viewed as an economic development tool and f in d that image and confidence among the few positive outcomes rail boosters could identify (p. 236). They (1998) conclude that, the evidencesuggests that, in general, such impacts are very limited in scale (p. 234). Nevertheless, the growth machine continues to be a significant advocate for development and, in particular, project based rejuvenation of urban areas. Particularly benefiting from the political strength of the growth machine are large scale projects, which Altshuler and Luber off (2003) call megaprojects. These projects are mega in the sense that their potential for impact both positive and negative is significant. Mega projects Altshuler and Luberoff (2003) analyze the underlying political and social structures that both enable and restrai n megaprojects. They define megaprojects as largescale government investments in physical capital facilitiesto revitalize cities and stimulate their economic growth (Altshuler & Luberoff, 2003, p. 1 2). The Woodward Avenue light r ail fits within this definition. Beginning after World War II, the mega-


41 project era began at a time when tremendous optimism and faith in the capacity of government joined with mounting concern about central city decline. Megaprojects were a means of shocking the urban system and stopping or reversing the cumulative causation that was pulling financial and cultural capital from the cities to the suburbs. Cities also found themselves at risk of obsolescence in the midst of gr owing automobile usage and dependency. Combined with the availability of federal funds for renewal, this precipitated an unprecedented period of public infrastructure investment. The early megaproject era was defined by two major characteristics: (1) projects that had subst antial (negative) impacts on the local neighborhoods, which were, more often than not, poor and black, and (2) these neighborhoods lacked the ability to participate in the planning of these projects and were also unable to mount serious or successful resistance to them. An example of a megaproject is the construction of urban freeways. These projects often displaced thousands of residents and businesses throughout the country, particularly impacting communities that were poor and minority based. These di sparate impacts were also prevalent in the federal governments Urban Renewal programs. In the same era, these programs became known as negro removal among affected communities. In Detroit, the Paradise Valley area a cultural incubator for the citys black population in the early 20th century, comparable to Harlem in New York City fell to the bulldozer to accommodate the construction of Interstate75 and a mixedincome housing project designed by famed Modernist architect, Mies van der Rohe. The subsequent redevelopment was unable to recreate the vibrant social fabric that had preceded it.


42 The dominance of the megaproject paradigm began to wane in the 1970s, replaced by what Alts huler and Luberoff (2003) call the era of do no harm (p. 220221). T here were a number of contributing factors: growing environmental concern, increasing organization of resistance movements, and the completion of most of the interstate highway system among them. Megaprojects could not be built without devoting unprecedented time and money to mitigate the impact to local citizens. Opposition groups became better organized, succeeding in stopping many projects; most famously the Embarcadero Expressway in San Francisco. In Detroit, these new dynamics lead to significant d elay in the construction of the Walter Reuther Expressway (I 696) first proposed in the 1950s and not completed until 1989 Upon its eventual completion, the final cost was substantially greater than the initial projection, having included major alterati ons to provide mitigation demanded by citizens who were directly affected (Schmidt, 1989). The Revival of Transit in the Era of Do No Harm The 1970s slowed but did not end the megaproject paradigm. This in part reflects the fact that, as Altshuler an d Luberoff (2003) note, local politics [have] always been an aspect of business a way of bringing government power to bear in support of private investment opportunities (p. 1). While the scale of projects remained worthy of the mega prefix, the type of project changed. Huge public housing complexes and freeways were out; was mass transit was in. As recounted earlier, mass transit investment slowed dramatically following World War II. While other, more intrusive megaprojects were largely unbui ldable, mass transit received renewed attention. Mass transit projects fit the do no harm ethos of the era perfectly. N ew and somewhat unlikely coaliti ons formed around the idea that


43 mass transit could achieve their goals. Mass transit aim s to align business interests, advocates for disadvantaged populations, and environmental advocates, among others, in a common cause (Altshuler & Luberoff, 2003, p. 187). Mass transit further benefitted from the growing perception that urban freeways previously seen as essential to urban vitality had failed to live up to expectations (Teaford, 1990, p. 167). Transit projects also benefit from their status as an urban amenity; for cities seeking to at tract what Florida (2002) terms the creative class, such ameni ties are often deemed essential. From 1970 to 2000, sixteen major rail transit systems were built or expanded, including Portlands renowned MAX light rail and streetcar and Washington D C s acclaimed Metro (Baum Snow, Kahn, & Voith, 2005). This tr end s hows no signs of abatement; Alts huler and Luberoff (2003) note, the political if not the behavioral resurgence of mass transit appears highly robust (p. 218). Powerful political forces produced and maintain a renaissance in urban rail construction. Ye t, Pickrell s (1992) examination of major rail investments finds inconsistencies between the projected costs and benefits of urban rail and actual outcomes. In most cases, Pickrell (1992) concludes that costs were underestimated while ridership and other positive outcomes were overestimated. The cost to build and operate light rail transit was typically substantially more than bus transit but attracted few new riders; in fact, most ridership was drawn simply from existing bus ridership. These findings we re indicative of what Pickrell (1992) call s the desire named streetcar that had, in his view, clouded the judgment of planners and other light rail proponents. This predisposition to light rail is suggested by some to have even caused deliberate manipul ation of cost and ridership projections in order to drive projects forward (Kain, 1990; Li & Wachs, 2004;


44 Moore, 1993; Taylor, Kim, & Gahbauer, 2009; Winston & Maheshri, 2007). Others dispute this point (Lane, 1998; Litman, 2010) including Black (1993), w ho temper s his criticism of planners by emphasizing the inherence politics of public investment. Flyvbjerg, Holm, and Buhl (2002), however, remain critical: The policy implications of our findings are clear. First, the findings show that a major planning and policy problem namely misinformation exists for this highly expensive field of public policy. S econd, the size and perseverance over time of the problem of misinformation indicate that it will not go away by merely pointing out its existence and appealing to the good will of project promoters and planners to make more accurate forecasts. The problem of misinformation is an issue of power and profit and must be dealt with as such, using the mechanisms of transparency and accountability we commonly use in liberal democracies to mitigate rent seeking behavior and the misuse of power. To the extent that planners partake in rent seeking behavior and misuse of power, this may be seen as a violation of their code of ethics that is, malpractice. Whether thes e miscalculations are deliberate or something less sinister, they reinforce other political dynamics. Richmond (1998) writes : The rail project becomes a symbol for the solution of deeper problems and one around which political action can be successfully built, but it leaves the deeper problems untouched: the city remains polluted, the freeways congested, the poor uneducated and unemployed, despite any slight extra mobility which might be provided to reach opportunities from which they cannot benefit. Pol itical power remains concentrated among those who have created symbolic solutions which to all everyday appearances represent progress. Transit planners and growth advocates have been slow to learn the lessons of light rail failure. Hall (1980) examines t he planning and implementation of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in California and concludes, [] there can be no doubt that [] BART is a Great Planning Disaster. It is manifestly criticized for its failings and it has conspicuously failed to fulfill the predictions made for it (p. 110). Although Hall (1980) feels that the lessons from BART were highly relevant to the planners of other


45 new systems, it appears that thirty years since his book those lessons remain unlearned. In fact, the social benefits of most systems fail to justify the costs (Winston & Maheshri, 2007). Even when social benefits do accrue such as reduced travel times they tend to benefit only the very small segment of the population that patronizes the rail system, themse lves typically former bus riders (Baum Snow et al., 2005). Other metrics, such as job creation and new construction, have equally unclear outcomes. A more recent review of the projects analyzed by Pickrell, as well as 21 light rail projects completed si nce, by the Federal Transit Administration (2008) finds some improvement in planners projections. Although capital costs continue to be underestimated and ridership continues to be overestimated in most cases, the discrepancies between predicted and obse rved totals for each are much less dramatic than Pickrell had found earlier ( Federal Transit Administration, 2008 ). This suggests that, although projections remain politicized and prone to error, the chance for dramatic miscalculation may be significantly less than it once was. Light Rail and Economic Development In spite of the mixed outcomes, mass transit remains a megaproject of choice. As a strategy light rail transit seems to meet many economic development aims. For instance, light rail transit could be seen as an amenity and thus improvement to the local quality of life. This amenity may attract people and capital into the city that would not otherwise seek to live or invest there. In reality, many researchers have found that light rail has had n o substantial impact on population growth, property values, or job creation, all indicators of economic development Further, some research find s that transit improvements act as a magnet


46 for poor households Glaeser, Kahn, and Rappaport s (2007) review of the 2001 National Household Travel Survey finds that the availability of public transportation was a major factor in the residential location decisions of low income households and was a key explanatory variable of the concentration of poverty in centra l cities. There is also evidence that the impacts of rail on property value are highly sensitive to context Hess and Almeida (2007) look at assessed property values within onehalf mile of 14 rail transit stations in Buffalo, New York and f i nd that prox imity is positively correlated with property values in areas that had been high income prior to rail construction but negatively correlated with areas that were low income prior to rail construction. These outcomes are further encouraged by other environmental factors in action in a city experiencing population decline. Glaeser and Gyourko (2005) examine population trends, housing values, and housing replacement costs in the nations largest cities and fi nd that the degree of persistence in population change among declining cities is double that for growing cities. This is reaffirmed by Beauregard (2009) who examines population data from a sample of medium to large US cities from 1950 to 2000 using spatial analysis and finds that urban population decline in many cities is both prevalent and persistent. The persistence of decline, when combined with t he durability of housing stock, leads to an agonizingly slow downward spiral that is characterized by plummeting home prices due in large part to a vast ov ersupply of housing. Low home prices explain why some cities struggle to lure the creative class; low cost housing is a magnet for low income households (Glaeser & Gyourko, 2005, p. 348, p. 370). Other economic development outcomes were similarly unsuc cessful. For example, Taylor and Samples


47 (2002) examine transit capital investments in five California regions and f i nd that rail lines were a relatively ineffective way to stimulate local employment (p. 261). Gue rra and Cervero (2010) attempt to answ er a question that is at the heart of any proposed transit project: how much dens ity is needed to ensure success? Using data from over 50 heavy rail, light rail, and bus rapid transit projects built since 1970, they fi nd that an average light rail system in an average city requires approximately 56 jobs and persons per gross acre in order to achieve a strong cost per rider performance with an average capital cost of $50 million per mile (p. 19) ( Table 3 1 ). T h ose findings echo Balaker and Kim (2006) wh o wri te that the success of rail transit will, to a large degree, be determined by trends, demographics, policies, and other factors that vary greatly from one community to another (p. 595). Yet, they still suggest that these figures could be a starting point for communities seeking to build transit, especially to guide development in and around transit stations. Table 3 1. LRT station a rea d ensities related to capital cost per m ile Millions/guideway m ile $5 $10 $25 $50 $75 $100 $150 Std dev b elow 7 35 125 Average s ystem 3 16 56 116 Std dev a bove 1 5 17 35 59 122 Cervero and Landis (1997) looked back at the development outcomes from the 72mile long BART system after 20 years of existence. The findings show that BARTs largest impact was on the form of development rather than the amount of development. For example, the Richmond station area saw little development which the authors attribute to a depressed local economy, urban blight, and increased crime (p. 328). In contrast, th ree other stations with more favorable market conditions saw development and that development was largely dense and diverse, two transit supportive


48 characteristics. The authors conclude that BART is clearly not a sufficient condition to significant land development around stations, however under the right circumstances, it has proven to be an important contributor (p. 332). Loukaitou Sideris and Banerjee (1996) also stress the importance of context on development outcomes in their review of Los Angeles Blue Line. They identify five neighborhood conditions that inhibited station area development: (1) a lack of density; (2) a lack of amenities; (3) physical evidence of economic decline; (4) high crime rates and negative perceptions; and (5) relatively high property values (p. 5). They conclude that a transit system cannot by its mere presence catalyze miracles in the inner city (p. 6). In Detroit, the context and circumstances are largely defined by dramatic population loss. Existing densities are likely to decrease without some sort of policy intervention by the city. Only recently have civic leaders in Detroit begun to acknowledge that Detroit may continue to decline in population and develop a strategy to address that potential Factors Impacting th e Success of Light Rail Transit Brown and Thompson (2009) s ynthesize the current knowledge on the factors associated with rail transit success or failure. Those major factors are divided into two categories: external factors, over which transit operators have little control, and internal factors, over which transit operators exert more control. The external factors include the urban structure of the metropolitan area, in particular the degree of decentralization in the region and the centrality of the CB D, and land use patterns, especially the proportion of transit oriented development (TOD) around transit stops. Internal factors


49 identified in the study include fare structures and policies, service frequencies and coverage, and service orientation. The ir own research uses data on eleven metropolitan area transit systems from the National Transit Database from 1984 to 2004, supported by key informant interviews. Each metropolitan area had a population between 1 and 5 million and had rail tr ansit. Their findings indicate that the major factors influencing transit performance are: transit system orientation; the role of rail transit as a regional transit systems backbone; the importance of tapping nonCBD markets; the important role placed by transfers i n ex tending the reach of the regional transit system; and the importance of serving regional destinations. (p. 35) The authors also offer cautionary tales regarding the ability of rail to create a successful transit system. First, in Miami they find that rail transit has not stimulated the expected economic development because areas with large potential ridership were excluded while areas with low potential ridership were constr ucted (p. 7273). They also find in San Jose that a lack of coordination between rail and bus service and slow travel times hinder that systems outcomes (p. 74). The factors impacting the success of light rail transit in Detroit can only be extrapolated from other contexts at this time Given Detroits substantial population and employment declines, decentralized urban structure, and proliferation of transit agencies, there are likely to be many challenges in adapting light rail transit successfully in a shrinking Detroit.


50 Shrinking Cities City shrinkage policies were pioneered in Youngstown, Ohio, an industrial town that although smaller both at its peak now and then Detroit today nevertheless experienced a similar magnitude of economic decline. Rather than pursue traditional strategies to promote city rebirth, leaders in Youngstown composed a vision based upon right sizing the city, the Youngstown 2010 Plan. The plan calls for targeted investment in stable, populated neighborhoods. This would enable Youngstown to save money on infrastructure maintenance and other service pr ovision (City of Youngstown, 2010). Youngstowns response to its economic realities remains novel in the United States, where the typical response is to vigorously chase growth and investment. This is a return to an earlier kind of local government wher e the primary role of local government was basic service provision rather than economic development (Altshuler & Luberoff, 2003). Planned shrinkage is particularly relevant in cities like Detroit and Youngstown, which Beauregard (2009) identifies as chro nic losers of population. Detroit does not appear likely to reverse, or even stop, its population decline in the near or long term. As Hollander (2011) notes, local government is ill equipped to change the endogenous and exogenous factors that produce growth or decline (p. 11). Detroit has unquestionably failed throughout its long decline to halt larger economic trends that doomed much of its public redevelopment agenda to failure. With 138 square miles of space and infrastructure built for a populati on more than double its current level, the citys fiscal solvency and any improvements in quality of life likely depends on its ability to right size itself and reduce the service and maintenance burdens that currently exist.


51 The Woodward Avenue light rail project indicates that Detroit may be attempting to reduce its footprint by investing in infrastructure and new building along its central corridor. Balancing the completing visions of Detroit suggested by growth machine and shrinking cities ideolog ies is a major challenge. The Woodward Avenue light rail transit project is Detroits largest transit project since the Detroit People Mover, which has fallen far short of expectations. This new project will create more infrastructure in opposition of the basic argument for smart decline for which the city must allocate funds for operation and maintenance. To satisfy both visions, the project needs a sustainable source of longterm funding and the alignment of city policies to support redevelopment around the Woodward corridor (and limit redevelopment elsewhere). This major investment will likely, by itself, send a strong signal to the development community that the Woodward corridor is the place to invest. The city must insure, however, that these investments are transit oriented, with appropriate density, diversity, and design. Transit oriented development may not only support light rail ridership (a key indicator of project success) but also allow the city to serve its population in a more cost effective manner and improve the quality of life for current and future residents of the city Summary Woodward Avenue light r ail is indicative of a traditional, growth oriented megaproject. Many megaprojects have fallen fall short of their anticipated positive outcomes. They continue to persist, however, due to the dominance of t he growth machine in urban politics and the public relations potential of ribbon cutting cerem onies Light rail transit has been a preferred project of the growth machine for nearly four decades due to the limited negative impacts to existing residents. Now Detroit is


52 attempting to plan for future population decline while also pursuing a megaproject. It remains to be seen if Detroit can balance growth interests with shrink age realities through its latest megaproject, the Woodward Avenue light rail.


53 CHAPTER 4 METHODOLOGY This report is a case study of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail in Detroit, Michigan. The purpose of this research is to determine i f and how the Woodward Avenue light r ail project can be successful in the context of Detroits ongoing population decline. The results are reflections on the place this project takes in Detroits history of urban redevelopment initiative and recommendations for improving the outcomes of the project from a shrinking cities lens. In order to properly analyze the projects potential for success the term success must itself be defined. Success may be highly subjective and relates heavily to individual perspective. S uccess as defined by the M1 Rail coalition may differ dramatically from success as defined by DDOT, transit users, or transportation academics. Rather than speculate on the measures of success that will be employed by these groups, this report seeks to define success by the project meeting budget and ridership projections, creating transit system integration, and positively impacting the efficiency of service provision within Detroit, including but not limited to transit services. The evaluation examines existing conditions to determine the current feasibility of the project, and offers recommendations to maximize favorable outcomes once the project is fully operation. Th is report also addresses other short and longterm challenges and opportunities that will impact the ability to get the project through design and construction to operation as well as its longterm viability as a transportation mode and economic development stimulator. The primary source materials were planning documents relating to the development of the Woodward Avenue light r ail project. All relevant and publically


54 available planning documents were reviewed. These documents included Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) planning documents from the Detroit Transit Options for G rowth Study (DTOGS) and for the current project. They also included reports and information on land use and zoning from the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department. These reports were analyzed to understand: the dynamics of the separate and c ombined public and private project planning efforts; methods of service allocation, with particular emphasis on the consideration of neighborhood condition in those decisions; existing zoning, land use, and transportation infrastructure and plans for the f uture; and trends in population and employment that will impact a completed project. A dditional context to the policy document analysis came from local news articles from two major daily newspapers The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press and national m edia including The New York Times Articles were primarily obtained online through Google Web Search Additional articles were identified via recommendations from sites including Planetizen and the New Urban Network and through a listserv provided by t he Detroit areas Transportation Riders United. These articles helped to identify specific issues and areas of concern and largely reflected a local perspective. Additional information and documentation was obtained through contact with the city of Detroi t and, when possible, interviews with city policymakers. Interviews were semi structured and conducted by phone; questions were prepared in advance but the interviewer permitted and welcomed diversion from the prepared questions when


55 warranted. Handwritt en notes were taken during the interview and later transcribed. The interviews were used to confirm and clarify data collected from print sources. Finally, this report benefits from the onsite observations of the author throughout various trips to Detro it from the 1990s to 2011. The observations made during these visits provided greater context to the other elements of this report.


56 CHAPTER 5 FINDINGS The Woodward Avenue light rail project has many obstacles to overcome to be considered a successful r ail transit line. An evaluation of factors influencing the success of light rail transit finds that the Metropolitan Detroit area faces challenges due to its existing urban and political structures, particularly as related to planning and policy development for transportation and land use. There are also findings that suggest that there is movement in t ransit planning, land use and zoning, and citywide policies to address population decline. In particular, the DDOT has implemented policies, which will al locate its increasingly thin resources more efficiently, promoting the vitality of already vital neighborhoods. In contrast, similar efficiencies in other policy areas are just, as of the summer of 2011, coming to fruition through the Detroit Works Projec t. As such, while recent policy announcements are encouraging, it remains to be determined whether the policies will produce the desired outcomes and gain support from citizens and officials needed to ensure their long term viability. In particular, thes e new policies must be supportive of the light rail investment in order to maximize ridership. Meeting Budget and Ridership Projections One of the first and most significant measures o f success for Woodward Avenue light r ail is whether or not it is buil t. This is essentially a short term objective, as the planning process has moved the project to a record of decision by the Federal Transit Administration as of August 2011. More important are the decisions that will be made during this design and constr uction phase will invariably impact the capital cost of the project and the eventual ridership, two key ways that success can be measured. As the project moves forward, maintaining the fragile balance between the public and private


57 projects is among the m ost critical elements in getting the project built. The two groups must find common ground that does not imperil the success of project as defined by its budgetary constraints and ridership goals. The public and private Woodward Avenue light r ail proposal s were largely unviable without each other, the public reliant on the private for local matching funds, and the private reliant upon the public for expertise in moving through federal, state, and local planning and funding processes. Given the public sect ors expertise, the projects have been consolidated under city (DDOT) control. This relationship has not been without conflict. In large part, the conflict has been centered on ideology. For DDOT, light rail primarily is an improvement to in transportati on for the city and its citizens. For the M 1 Rail group and other growthmachine interests, light rail is a tool for economic growth. One issue resulting from this clash of ideologies is the question of alignment: will the trains will run along the curb in mixed traffic or in the center median. Transportation advocates, including the non profit group Transportation Riders United, support the DDOT preferred center alignment, which they say will allow for faster travel times and create fewer vehicular and pedestrian conflicts. M 1 Rail, however, is strongly in favor of curb running trains, particularly because they see center running trains as inconvenient to potential users. The FEIS submitted to the FTA showed that DDOT intended to build a medianrunn ing light rail system for 16 of the 19 stations along the 9.3 mile alignment (Detroit DOT, 2011, p. 5 2). The three exceptions are within the CBD in areas where right of way constraints necessitate curbrunning cars.


58 The selected alignment with medianr unning trains will have lower travel times due to their separation from general traffic than any other alternative. DDOT anticipates 10minute peak hour headways and 15 minute off peak headways, which when combined with concurrent bus service on DDOTs Ro ute 53, would result in increased transit frequency and decreased transit travel times for LRT (34 36 minutes) vers us the nobuild alternative (48 50 minutes) (Detroit DOT, 2011, p. 33). As a result of the FEIS recommendation, some members of the M 1 co alition threatened to pull funding from the project because they did not feel DDOTs proposal [was] the best use of the funding, [was] financially sustainable or [was] the best layout and alignment and further fail[ed] to tie [] into any future regiona l mass transit systems (Shea, 2011). In reality, the faster travel times of a medianrunning system may make future extensions along Woodward Avenue (beyond 8 Mile Road) more feasible, particularly because potential riders would be very sensitive to trav el times when selecting a travel mode (Frank, Bradley, Kavage, Chapman, & Lawton, 2008). It also increases the viability of the project as more than just a local shuttle between various downtown attractions. Although these disputes are certainly a challenge, the melding of public and private interests in the project also presents opportunity. First, the coalition of private interests may serve to push the project forward, through pressure both behind closed doors and in the public arena. Second, the coali tion could serve as a watchdog of the process, helping to ensure that issues like those experienced with the Detroit People Mover completed far behind schedule and far beyond budget are avoided in this effort. Third, this endeavor, if successful, coul d provide a framework for future public /


59 private partnerships in Detroit. Such partnerships are likely to grow ever more important as the city continues to contract. Finally, given their direct and indirect stake in the projects success, the private partners are likely to also be involved in many land development projects along the corridor and more than the typical land speculator be supportive of development that is supportive in its design of transit. Such development may help to support DDOTs expected 22,000 boardings on the light rail per day almost double the 12,000 that currently board Route 53 ( the primary bus route currently serving Woodward Avenue) Tellingly, this projection is nearly one quarter the ridership initially predicted for t he DPM nearly three decades ago. Light rail on Woodward Avenue may also result in changes to bus services. The FEIS indicates that minor service adjustments may occur following completion of the light rail, to coordinate bus stops and allow for easy transfer between rail and bus transit. Route 53 is expected to remai n in service at reduced headways to provide local service1. Facilitation of transfers from bus service or park and ride locations will be essential components of ridership development. Unfortunately, present conditions in terms of population and employment densities and existing land uses and future forecasts for population, employment, and market health indicate several challenges to the establishment of viable light rail. Figure 5 1 shows population densities as of the 2000 U.S. Census while Figure 5 2 shows projected population densities in the year 2030 along Woodward Avenue. Figure 5 3 shows employment densities as of the 2000 U.S. Census while Figure 5 4 shows 1 In public transportation, a headway is the time between the arrival of two transit vehicles on the same route. For instance, tenminute headway would indicate that transit vehicles on a particular route were scheduled to arrive in tenminute intervals.


60 Figure 51. Population d ensity by t ransportation a nalysis zone (TAZ), 2000 [actual]


61 Figure 52. Population d ensity by t ransportation a nalysis zone (TAZ), 2030 [estimated]


62 Figure 53. Employment d ens ity by t ransportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2000 [actual]


63 Figure 54. Employment d ensity by t ransportation analysis zone (TAZ), 2030 [estimated]


64 projected employment densities in the year 2030 along Woodward Avenue. In both cases, there are several are as along the proposed alignment that have very low densities of population and/or employment. Future projections indicate that densities, as well as net numbers, of population and employment in many TAZs will decrease. This is supported by data prepared by DDOT for half mile station area. [The station areas examined do not exactly correspond with the stations selected in the FEIS; however, due to station spacing, the data remains useful as it encompasses much of the same spatial area]. DDOTs projections show continued diminishment of the CBDs regional importance, with declining net employm ent and employment density ( Appendix A). The corridor is also projected to lose both population and employment, declining 5.5% and 10.4% respectively. The station analyses indicate that employment is expected to decline at most locations, rising only slightly at the remainder, while 6 of the 15 station areas are projected to see significant population growth of between 10% at the Michigan State Fair Grounds station to 44% at Warren Avenue, adjacent to Wayne State University, the Detroit Medical Center, and several cultural destinations. In contrast, the already low density McNichols Road station area is projected to see the largest population declines, more than 25% Applying the density thresholds identified by Guerra and Cervero (2010), the net combined density of population and employment at each station level analysis area fall well short of that densities that would result in cost effective transit service ( Ta ble 5 1). At a projected cost of $450 500 million dollars, the 9.3 mile Woodward Avenue light rail would cost approximately $50 million per mile. This capital cost corresponds with an optimal combined population and employment density of 56 per square mi le as shown


65 Table 5 1. Station a rea p opulation and e mployment d ensities within half m ile r adius Station a rea Population (2000) Jobs (2000) Net d ensity (2000) Population (2030) Jobs (2030) Net d ensity (2030) Trend (20002030) State Fairgrounds 1,897 614 5 2,086 550 5 Stable 7 Mile Road 4,166 360 9 4,073 353 9 Stable McNichols Road 4,062 712 10 3,036 622 7 Decreasing Manchester Street 3,211 1,737 10 2,647 1,549 8 Decreasing Glendale Street 3,400 1,403 10 2,910 1,252 8 Decreasing Calvert Street 3,928 514 9 3,193 349 7 Decreasing Hazelwood Street 5,386 936 13 4,662 634 11 Decreasing Grand Blvd / New Center 3,358 4,998 17 3,018 3,445 13 Decreasing Piquette St / Amtrak 1,428 2,975 9 1,760 2,361 8 Decreasing Warren Ave / Wayne State 5,474 15,299 42 7,8 84 12,977 42 Stable MLK Blvd / Mack Ave 7,109 6,958 28 9,478 5,401 30 Increasing Foxtown / stadiums 3,052 6,080 18 4,013 6,323 21 Increasing Transit C enter 1,486 14,755 32 1,752 13,172 30 Decreasing Cobo Hall 448 12,017 25 520 8,817 19 Decreasing Mil lender Center 2,330 28,151 61 2,310 29,392 63 Increasing in Table 3 1 in the literature review. Only one stationarea analysis exceeded that threshold in 2000 and is projected to do so in 2030. This station happens to be closest to the Renaissance Cent er. In contrast, the remaining station areas have net densities


66 between 5 and 42 net population and jobs per square mile today and in 2030, with many projected to decline in density over the next 20 years. Creating an Integrated Transit System If and when Woodward Avenue light r ail is built, the project still faces many challenges. First, the project needs a viable way to fund operations and maintenance that will not adversely impact other services, including bus transit. In order to support ridership, the bus transit system and DPM should be calibrated to provide quick, easy transfers to and from light rail. System redundancies could then be eliminated with reduced impact on current transit users. The existing duplicity of transit agencies in the Detr oit metropolitan area, as well as the historic lack of cooperation and trust between governmental units particularly between the City of Detroit and suburban governments bode poorly for such integration. In order to maximize the potential for regional access improvements provided by the light rail investment, however, the multiple agencies must forge common ground. The best way to accomplish this would be through consolidation of transit oversight and the creation of a regional authority to oversee DD OT, SMART, and the DPM. However, the history of failure in this regard is foreboding. One reason why regional transit has not been realized in Detroit is the struggle over funding, in part a view that a regional structure will inevitably lead to some mu nicipalities subsidizing transit for others. Yet, a l ong term and secure source of funding for transit is essential to the success of Woodward Avenue light r ail. This reality was illustrated during the 2011 Detroit City Cou ncil budget discussions, during which funding for transit services was at risk. Given the ongoing financial turbulence experienced by Detroit, secure funding for light rail is as important as construction


67 funding to the viability of this project. SMART and DPM also routinely face chal lenges to ongoing funding, with many suburban municipalities opting out of SMART and thus creating transit free islands within the region. Transit funding in Michigan is significantly different than in many other states. Many municipalities, including Dal las, Texas and Denver, Colorado, fund transit projects and operations through sales tax revenues. However, Proposal A a 1994 Michigan ballot initiative, funded public education through the state sales tax. T his leaves local governments much more dependent upon local property tax revenues for service provision, including public transportation. In addition, DDOTs costs are higher than most public transit agencies, in part because the City Council acts as the transit board and the City negotiates all contr acts on its behalf. These costs must be covered through property tax revenues, which have been falling due to declining property values (Detroit Charter Revision Committee, 2009). Michigan also struggles from declining gas tax and automobile registration revenues, which further reduces the funding available for transit (Michigan Department of Transportation, 2009b). Developing a structure for regional transportation that is agreeable to the diversity of interests in the metropolitan area is a huge, and to date, insurmountable, challenge. The long term viability of transit integration in Detroit, and the success of the Woodward Avenue light r ail, is thusly imperiled. Promoting Service Efficiency Efficiency doing the same or more with less has become a paradigm in the provision of government services, particularly in the current recession. In Detroit, as the tax base has collapsed, the need to provide services has not reduced. In fact, in many respects providing services in Detroit is ever more ex pensive, as an increasingly poor


68 and isolated population places more demands upon the local government. The citys population decline has not been coupled with an equivalent decline in space. Instead, the roads, schools, and other infrastructure that onc e served more than 2 million residents over 128 square miles remains, now serving only around 700,000 in the same space. Detroits overabundance of housing and inf rastructure creates demands for services that the government is ill prepared and ill funded to address. DDOT has addressed challenges with funding in the past through smart transit planning. Efficiency has been essential, as DDOT has the dueling challenges of high costs and low funding levels. As such, DDOT has had to find service efficiencies. The City of Detroit Department of Transportation Service Standards updated in 2010, govern service planning and delivery. This set of guidelines also outlines a standard methodology for the evaluation of existing and proposed service routes, including service headways and stop spacing. These evaluations occur annually and as needed to determine the feasibility of continuing current services and the need to add new services. Ridership is the primary variable used to evaluate route efficiency. Ridership is a useful, less political and less objective, metric as a proxy for other variables related to population decline, including vacancy rates, housing and neighborhood condition, and demolition data. As a result, transit services are less likely to be provided in areas of low population (net or density). Light rail transit will present a new challenge. Unlike bus transit, light rail service is not easily reallocated from one area to another. Service frequency can respond to changes in density and stab ility, but ultimately, once the infrastructure is in place t he


69 light rail transit is more or less permanent and funding must likewise be more or less permanent. In addition, unlike bus transit, DDOT and the city as a whole has a much greater stake in the Woodward corridors development after constructing light rail than they would necessarily have otherwise. Beyond transit planning, land use and zoning is another integral component of a comprehensive approach to light rail implementation. Land use and zon ing within the City of Detroit is controlled by the Planning and Develop ment Department. Land use policies and goals are formalized in the Citys Master Plan of Policies which was last updated in 2006. The Master Plan of Policies sets goals and policies for the City as a whole, as well as for 10 sectors and 50 subsectors. Zoning is established by ordinance. Along Woodward Avenue, the existing zoning and land uses reflect the diverse nature of the corridor, from the traditional central business district at the southern end of Woodward, to the institutional uses in the New Center area, to more suburban uses at the northern end of the corridor. Future land use maps (City of Detroit, 2006) for the subsectors that overlap with the proposed light rail alignment show major concentrations of the following land uses : major commercial [office/retail] and special residential commercial [residential with ground floor retail] in the CBD and special residential commercial and institutional land uses in the Lower Woodw ard and Middle Woodward subsectors. From the northern end of the Middle Woodward area to 8 Mile Road, future land uses are more varied, but are predominantly low density and single use in nature, including large areas of park space and other recreational uses. Detroit DOT (2009) notes that much of the existing zoning categories along the southern half of the alignment would translate well to support TOD (p. 48). These


70 categories allow for multi story, mixed use development. The potential for transit or iented development (TOD) is bolstered by overlays that govern the form of development in key areas along the corridor, including the area between I 75 and the southern boundary of the City of Highland Park (Detroit DOT, 2009). Zoning along the northern portion of the proposed alignment is currently less supportive of TOD. Dominant zoning categories include low density residential and the general business district, which is defined as having a thoroughfareoriented nature (Detroit DOT, 2009, p. 4344). This change in zoning mirrors the shift in cross section of Woodward Avenue as it grows in width, number of lanes, and gains a large central median as it approaches the city limits at 8 Mile Road. The area around Woodward Avenue near 8 Mile Road also contains several large tracts of land that do not have transit supportive densities and may not redevelop due to their current uses: Palmer Park Golf Club and Evergreen and Woodlawn Cemeteries. It is also the prospective home to the Shoppes at Detroits Gat eway Park development, the building of which has been delayed due to the slow economy. It is the rumored home to what could be Detroits first major chain grocery outlet (Martinez, 2011). The development is expected to be a traditional, auto based strip development that will include a 400space park and ride facility for the light rail line (Detroit DOT, 2011). At this time, no changes have been made to land use or zoning specifically related to the light rail project. However, the project team noted i t will examine stationarea zoning and parking policies, including the potential for a transit overlay district, as part of broader efforts at conceptual station area planning as the project moves into the


71 engineering and design phases (Detroit DOT, 2009, p. 48). These phases are expected to begin sometime in late 2011. While detailed stationarea planning is still forthcoming, Mayor Dave Bings central policy initiative is one of the first direct attempts to address shrinkage in Detroit. Dubbed T he De troit Works P roject it aims to unite all aspects of city govern ance within one comprehensive strategy. Unlike past efforts, this one is explicitly intended to help right size Detroit to its current population. Like past efforts, this one has also strug gled to get off the ground. The project identifies nine specific planning areas that will be included in the final report : land use, zoning, and land development ; economic r ecovery ; neighborhood, housing amenities ; landscape and ecology ; environmental s us tainability ; historic and cultural r esources ; services, operations & fiscal r eform ; transportation/t ransit ; and green and gray i nfrastructure ( The Detroit Works Project, 2011) These areas are supplemented by a serious of questions that the project is des igned to answer. These questions are targeted to current and future city residents and business owners, and include: Who will live here? Where will people live? Where will people work? How will people (and goods) move? What services will people need? How will the city invest? How will Detroit look? How will we decide? The project website, which is the most expansive source of information currently available, indicates that Detroits leaders are willing to recognize the dire situation before them: De cades of depopulation have resulted in a lack of density that has crippled neighborhoods. The national credit freeze is exacerbated by uncertainty about the valuation of real estate and other assets as loan collateral. The citys financial resources are s trained and school enrollment continues to decline.


72 This statement is unprecedented coming from a Detroit mayoral administration, although it is still not clear what the administration through this project will be able to achieve. The Bing administrat ion has been plagued by turnover among senior staffers. Although this has not yet impacted The Detroit Works Project leadership directly, it may certainly have had indirect impacts given the projects mission of unifying planning and investment efforts th roughout the city. As of June 2011, more than 25 appointees of the mayor have left since his term began in 2009 (Hackney & Neavling, 2011). At the same time, the scope and timelines for the project have continued to change, reports have been delayed, and to date little substantive policy has immerged. While the project is intended to develop a long term strategy, the most significant product of it to date is a short term initiative aimed at neighborhood stability. Mayor Bings office announced a plan in July 2011 to begin citywide implementation of targeted city services based upon neighborhood market conditions ( Appendix B ). Strategies in stable neighborhoods will be targeted at maintaining that stability such as blight enforcement and infrastructur e improvement while demolition will take priority in transitional and distressed neighborhoods (Kaffer, 2011). The city has identified three areas, which will be monitored during the initial six months of implementation to determine what outcomes ar e achieved; each area includes a mix of stable, transitional, and distressed neighborhoods (The Detroit Works Project, 2011). Two of the monitoring areas border or include significant portions of Woodward Avenue. While the proposed strategies reflect best practices for shrinking cities, the associated market analysis indicates major challenges for the Woodward Avenue light rail The


73 analysis indicates that a substantial portion of the land along Woodward Avenue is classified as long term decline & no mar ket (F igure 55 ). This includes most of the area between the New Center area and Downtown, and also many properties north of New Center to the light rails proposed terminus at 8 Mile Road. Figure 55 Geographic d istrib ution of Detroit Works Projec t neighborhood t ypes The market oriented strategy is an innovative step for the city, but also indicates the challenges that await the light rail. The existence of distressed neighborhoods along significant portions of the rail alignment calls into question the synergy between the light rail investment and the new policy direction. For instance, a high level of demolitions may aid in land assembly for long term development but could bode poorly for short term ridership. The two projects arguably tw o of the biggest projects in


74 Detroit this decade, must act in concert with each other or risk undermining the viability of each. Summary Recent shifts toward proactive policies to address population decline indicate that a new day may indeed be at hand in Detroit. Rather than chase growth with money and megaprojects, a new approach that focuses on basic services may help to ease the negative impacts of population decline on the residents who remain. A light rail proposal on its own is counterintuitive gi ven the focus on adjusting services to a smaller population. However, if matched with appropriate changes in land use and more cooperation between local governments, the light rail may help to support the goals of servicing the population in a more effici ent way. The most immediate challenge will be to build a system on time and on budget and obtain the ridership necessary to demonstrate that the investment was worthwhile.


75 CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION Despite the best efforts of DDOT, Woodward Avenue li ght rail remains a classic growthmachine strategy The ideological clash that arose over the design of the light rail is unlikely to disappear. M 1 Rail holds tremendous power in the project, not only because of the individual members influence as prominent business owners, but because their funding contribution is essential to meeting the financial requirements of the federal government. Although it is unlikely that the consortium would actually pull this contribution which would essentially terminate the project for fear of bearing the blame, they will no doubt hold tremendous sway over the engineering and design phases that will soon commence. P roject managers will continue to face pressure from outside and inside the government to orient the project to benefit growth interests. It is rather remarkable in light of M 1 Rail s veritable veto power that the City preceded with its recommendation for medianrunning light rail It was a risky move that suggests project managers are unwilling to acqu iesce to pressure from a powerful minority at the expense of their professional judgment That said, this conviction demands that t he project as built must keep its promises and meet its goals; M 1 consortium members have made it clear in the debate over m edianversuscurb running that they will not accept blame if the light rail is not successful. Project managers must keep to their budget and schedule (unusual for such projects) or Woodward Avenue light rail is likely to be considered like the D etroit P e ople M over a train to nowhere. The potential that the project will reaffirm cynicism about the ability of transit to get choice riders is much greater than the potential that the


76 project will improve City and suburban relations and generate widespread dem ands for future expansion. Another challenge is that, unlike bus service, DDOT will not be able to adjust the light rail alignment in response to ground conditions. Therefore, if population or ridership falls, the likely outcome is either r educed service on the line or inefficient service on the line will be provided at the expense of services elsewhere. Given Woodward Avenues historic significance in the Detroit area, it is likely that this alignment will require some level of transit service well into the future, whether or not population decline continues or densities justify light rail service. However, it is essential that the corridors land uses reflect its significance and provide for transit supportive density, diversity, and design. It is also essential that DDOT find a l ongterm source of operational funding for the light rail. A regional transportation authority might provide some benefit, assuming funding formulas did not reflect suburban reluctance to fund services in Detroit which t hose citizens and municipalities may not see a direct benefit. It would also potentially leave Detroit transit at the mercy of suburban interests, depending upon the power structure of the board. Yet, the ability to tax regionally to support transit may be one key component of longterm fiscal health for Detroit transit. A regional transit authority would also allow for more integrated planning of transit services to ensure the light rail complements, and is complemented by, bus service and the DPM to the maximum extent possible. If a regional authority were not created, another beneficial change would be to create a dedicated DDOT board of directors. This board would be empowered to


77 negotiate its contracts, including those with its employees. At the c urrent time, the Detroit City Council is the DDOT board of directors and negotiates contracts on its behalf, which may help to explain the DDOTs high costs compared with its peer agencies. Regardless of the light rail project, the lower W oodward area wi ll almost certainly continue to see new development. This is in large part due to the clustering of institutional uses in that area. Any development will provide fodder for both rail advocates (who will cite it as evidence of the rails success) and detr actors (who will question why the rail did not promote more development). If history is any indication, there will also be a continuing call for traditional, growthmachine solutions to urban renewal, such as a stadium project. Recently, in fact, the president of the Detroit City Council suggested that the Temple Street station which is surrounded by vacant buildings and cleared land might be an ideal location for a new hockey or basketball arena (Kalokhe, 2011). These habits are diehard, as demonst rated by Woodward Avenue light rail. Upper Woodward Avenue is a much different story. Limited market demand, dwindling population, and an existing autocentric development pattern create huge hurdles. These issues may be overcome if suburbanites abandon their cars and normal Woodward, Lodge, or I 75 travel patterns, shifting to park and ride facilities and the light rail. If rail is to be more than an amusement, this will need to be a change in daily travel patterns, not simply a new way to travel to a T igers game. Th is will largely depend upon three key outcomes. The light rail must be competitive in terms of travel times when compared to vehicular travel along Woodward and its parallel routes. It must also


78 be competitive in terms of cost; adjustment s to par king supply and pricing along the corridor may help to shift drivers from their cars to the rail. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, DDOT must maintain frequent reliable, and safe service. To a degree unlike most other urban areas, suburban Detroiters are skeptical, and to some extent scared, of their central city. A successful light rail line may help to physically and emotionally reconnect Detroit and Detroiters with the suburbs and suburbanites An integrated system, built at (or under) budget and meeting (or exceeding) ridership projections would surely do much to change opinions about transit. A regional system would also give suburbanites more ownership in the light rail line both literally and figuratively and the same can be sai d of city residents and suburban transit. There is already some evidence that suburban communities want to join in a larger light rail system. Six Oakland County municipalities along Woodward Avenue are pursuing federal funding to conduct an alternatives analysis for transit, which would be a necessary step to any federally funded extension of light rail beyond 8 Mile Road (Helms, 2011). Certainly, a regional authority with recent experience implementing rail transit would be in a most beneficial position to plan, build, and operate such an extension. Most will likely consider any new development along the light rail to be an indication of success. However, such development may further exacerbate existing patterns of disinvestment or lead to new disinves tment in other areas of the city. Glaeser (2010) warned: The whole idea of saving declining cities by building more is a mistake, since the hallmark of declining cities is that they have plenty of infra structure relative to people. Detroits houses sell for a fraction of the co sts of building anything new. The monorail glides over essentially empty


79 streets. Indeed, there is surely more wisdom in Mayor Bings plan to shrink the citys f ootprint than in the light rail system simultaneously being planned f or Detroit It is also possible, however, that some new development along Woodward Avenue would help to advance the goals of shrinking the city spatially. Previous studies by Glaeser and others ( Glaeser, Kahn, & Rappaport, 2007; Glaeser & Gyourko, 2005) found that transit accessibility and transit improvements are strong incentives to the residential locations of low income residents. If the light rail encourages folks to relocate from neighborhoods that are currently declining, the investment may prove to be smart. Mallach (2010) noted that t he point of making transportation investments in these [distressed] cities is not to respond to existing economic activity, but to serve as a catalyst for potential economic development and neighborhood revitalization opportunities ( p. 36). Where this strategy will fail is if residents relocate from neighborhoods that were already stable, which would do nothing to reduce the Citys service provision burdens. However, if the city can facilitate redevelopment along the corridor in a transit oriented fashion, rehabilitate existing structures, and encourage the shift of population and employment to the light rail service area, there could be a definite positive impact to the citys budget. While the outcomes for light rail remain unknown, one thing is certain: s hrinkage is political dynamite. Mayor Bing has shown the most willingness of any politician in Detroits history to proactively address the issues associated with Detroits falling population. According to Way land (2011), Bing stated w hen people look at Detroit, they compare us to what we were. We cant really live in the past. We have to talk about now, and the future. The delays in the Detroit Works Project may simply be a reflection of the inherent chal lenges of implementing shrinking cities I t may also reflect


80 the inherent challenges of governance for a polit i cal novice (Bing has no prior political experience) Regardless, unless the short term strategies released by the Bing administration in July 2011 eventually transition into long term policies, the city is likely to continue to struggle financially. Until recently, Youngstown, Ohio was the most prominent example of socalled shrinking cities policies in the United States. Although Detroits shrinkage plans are in their infancy, and the city has not yet began widespread removal of streets or down zoning of lands, it has the potential to legitimately claim the mantel of model city that it once held fraudulently, as the 1967 riots dramaticall y illustrated. Detroit has opportunities and challenges on a much larger scale than Youngstown, but also a much higher profile in the national psyche. Given Detroits epic fall from grace, it will not take much success to propel its policies into a new paradigm for shrinking cities. Success for Woodward Avenue light r ail must be redefined. Growth oriented indicators promise to disappoint, as past projects have shown. Objectives more conducive in a shrinking city context, such as meeting projections for cost and ridership, promoting transit system integration, and promoting service efficiencies, are no less challenging to achieve but will likely provide much more widespread benefit.


81 CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION Detroit has had a long and dangerous addiction t o megaproject based revitalization and an obsessive and deluded quest to regain a glorious past that has long since disappeared. Detroit has pursued multiple megaprojects and, more often than not, the costs have outweighed the benefits. While this stra tegy has exceptional monetary costs, perhaps more costly is the impact these repeated, spectacular failures have on the psyches of Detroiters. Take for example the response of one resident to the excitement surrounding the opening of Comerica Park in 2000, as quoted in The New York Times : ''This city is fixated on shortcuts to revitalization that do nothing but deliver false promises' (Christian, 2000). Detroit is already a city with an abundance of despair and a serious lack of hope; it is a perennial contender for the statistically dubious title of Most unhappy city in America routinely assigned by a variety of news magazines. What little hope remains among Detroiters should not be squandered frivolously. Even if the premise is accepted that economic development is a reasonable goal for the proposed light rail line, it is not clear that any meaningful economic development will result. Certainly, prior studies of the impacts of light rail on economic development are at best tepid in their findings in s upport of the thesis. In addition, most positive findings result from cities that are otherwise relatively healthy economically in comparison to Detroit. Even the documents produced in support of the light rail project show that population, employment, and market conditions are mixed, at best.


82 It is quite likely that, like the mega projects before it, the Woodward Avenue light rail exceed its projected costs while falling short of its projected benefits. Light rail is unfortunately, regrettably, but very likely, not going to return Detroit to its former heights Light rail is happily, thankfully, and very likely not going to kill Detroit, either. Daniel Burnham, one of historys great city planners, famous said: Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself wit h ever growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big. The Woodward Avenue light rail project is big. It may not live up to every expect ation, good or bad, and it may become a victim to circumstances known or unknown. It certainly will not please everyone. In spite of that, it is without doubt an unapologetic effort by a City to reclaim itself and forge a new, and perhaps better, future. This report is necessarily constrained by time, distance, and data availability. Future research into the motivations of the M1 Rail coalition might focus on the land development interests of the investors; such interests are characteristic of a protot ypical growth machine. This research also supports further understanding of origindestination and travel patterns in the study area. This data was not available for the Detroit area at the time of this study.










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93 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jacob Isaac Kain was born in Lansing, Michigan and grew up in Williamston, Michigan. He s tudied political science and h istory at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005. He received a Master of Arts in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida in 2011. He lives and works in Gainesvill e, Florida.