Here’s all you need to know about the reported tension between Woodward Light Rail stakeholders: old people with gray hair are arguing about things old people with gray hair like to argue about.That’s not to dismiss fears that investors may pull back some or all of their $100 million commitment, it’s only to underscore how silly this spat is.
Over the last generation, cities across the country have built and supported light rail lines. The late Paul Weyrich, one of the conservative movement’s founding fathers and a fierce rail advocate, liked to point to Salt Lake City as a place without a long public transportation history where light rail was successful.
Consider this: If the private investors take their ball and go home and Woodward Light Rail fails, then Detroit can be reasonably considered less capable of urban redevelopment than Salt Lake City.
It’s not that light rail on Woodward is some magic bullet project, but if Detroit can’t do this—the most modest and obvious of urban transit projects—then there’s no reason to believe Detroit can ever muster the comeback necessary make this place a “world class city,” at least not in a sustainable macroscopic way. At that point there’s no reason for talented, ambitious young people to waste their time trying to make Detroit a better place.