Detroit has become a place Hollywood directors come for great wreckage shots. One quarter of the city's 140 square miles are deserted. Detroit public school students boast the nation's worst reading scores, the products of a corruption-ridden school system.
Development of the City of Detroit Charlie Ludaf: We’ve got 44 ambulances, 22 by law it’s supposed to be running. We’ve got 17, 18 at night, any night because they’re broken. Why you --. Host: Detroit, which has seen its population cut in half since 1950, is home to an estimated 90,000 vacant houses. Adolph Mongo: People look at the empty building now there’s the great architect, and you say, “Man, is that’s a waste”. Host: Next year, construction is scheduled to begin on a $500million white rail line up in Woodward Avenue that will go from Downtown Detroit to the edge of the suburbs. Marie Donigan: It’s not a wacky Birkenstock idea, it’s a real idea. Host: Marie Donigan is a Michigan state representative from Royal Oak, a suburb of Detroit. Marie Donigan: What do you think will happen to those of beacon warehouses when there’s a really dynamic public transportation system out of Woodward? Host: Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, was in town in July to pledge federal support for the project, and to announce that the city of Detroit is one the move. Male: Frequently called the most cosmopolitan city of the Midwest, Detroit today stands at the threshold of a break new future. The inner city has becoming an exciting place to live, convenient to shops, offices, and the most modern of school. Marie Donigan: When we have the opportunity to rebuild an entire urban center which for me as a person with a master’s degree in landscape architecture in regional planning that is truly exciting. Male: The applied skills of planners, idea men, organizers, builders, Detroiters who welcome in respond to challenges. Sam Staley: If the light rail system would come on in 2016 as planned, there would be trains to nowhere. You simply cannot have a Manhattan without a subway. But it’s not the subway that built Manhattan, Manhattan built the subway. Light rails are not going to build Detroit. Charlie Ludaf: We’re at the proposed terminals of said light rail. Host: Charlie Ludaf is a Pulitzer Price winning reporter for the Detroit news. Charlie Ludaf: Who is getting out of the car, parking at here, leaving the car, and driving downtown? This is what it looks like during rush hour at Woodward. Marie Donigan: It’s going to take a huge effort to educate the public about the system. Whatever the system is, it’s going to be built to educate them to help them understand the value of public transportation. Charlie Ludaf: You know this light rail they’re talking about? From here to Downtown, $500million. Is that the number one thing we need right now in Detroit? Male: No. Marie Donigan: We can all drive our cars to go to the football game, the basketball games, and all that, or we can have other ways for people to get to the sport stadiums. Male: We need better police. The schools need improving, the garbage pickup, and the better ambulance service. Marie Donigan: But they drink more than two beers, then I’ll get on the street. Now you’re arrested for drunk driving and ruin my life. People really don’t want to do that anymore. Male: We’ve got a lot of other things we could be spending that money on. Marie Donigan: So, we have a limited pull of money, right? Is that what you’re saying? There’s only so much money in the world ever. Obviously that’s not true. If we wanted to build a new, if that was the case, then if we wanted to build a new school in Royal Oak for instance, we’d say, “We cannot build another school in Royal Oak because we only have so much money.” Charlie Ludaf: Man, did anybody asked you for a light rail? Male: No. Sam Staley: What we find is that people like to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible. So, the bus system particularly in cities like Detroit is going to be far more effective at certain the needs of the low income than developing a transit system. Host: And the city of Detroit already has a light rail that people lived with. Sam Staley: The people mover is a circulator within the Downtown. Marie Donigan: Some will think of it as a joke, others ride it all the time to get from Greek town to the baseball game, and to the football game. Sam Staley: A building fell on the tracks. There was no this -- impact on travel, and it was out of commission for months. Adolph Mongo: It’s nice to have it when you’ve got a festival and you’ve got a baseball game. But people moving Downtown, they’re being close to the people mover. Sam Staley: Detroit has to re-center itself from the basics, low crime, and low taxes. Make it a business climate that supports investment and households. Once that vibrancy begins to come back, perhaps in the future, rail will make sense, but right now I don’t see it. Charlie Ludaf: Let’s have a true accounting of what the problem is here. Let’s put the money in that and then God willing build some cool rails, build some swimming pools.