Detroit is bursting with construction. With it comes a ‘look-forward’ view and a sense of optimism. Buildings, grand Victorian architecture, are being saved from wrecking balls. Roads are being repaired. Tracks are being laid.
One of the largest projects underway is the M-1 RAIL Woodward Avenue Streetcar. This project is, “envisioned to be one element of a future modern, world-class regional transit system where all forms of transportation, including rail, bus, vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian, are considered and utilized to build a vibrant, walk-able region that includes a thriving Downtown Detroit.”
Once completed in late 2016, it will travel north and south on both sides of Woodward Avenue, A National Byway®. The streetcar will service 20 stations (16 curbside and 4 median running) at 12 locations, stretching for 3.3-miles between Larned Street and W. Grand Blvd. The system will provide access to hundreds of businesses and connect neighborhoods and points of interest along the way including, major cultural landmarks, sports stadiums, entertainment venues, restaurants, hospitals and universities. The project will also create construction and permanent jobs for Detroiters, and that’s certainly good news.
M-1 RAIL has completed its first phase of construction between Campus Martius Park and Grand Circus Park in downtown Detroit just in time for the Thanksgiving Parade on Thursday, November 27, 2014. After the floats, clown corps and spectators depart, vehicle traffic will once again be able to travel the Downtown stretch of Woodward Avenue. This is welcomed news for the many commuters along this route. On my recent trip, I was impressed with how well the city planners (or whomever it is that manages the re-routing of traffic), have done a great job keeping cars on the move and driver temperatures down. Kudos to them!
Aside from the Thanksgiving parade, here are some upcoming events in and around the city of Detroit to help you get into the festive mood:
The Wayne County Lightfest, featuring more than 55 giant animated holiday displays, is already underway and will remain open daily through December 31 (closed December 25). Visitors enter Lightfest at Hines Drive and Merriman Road in Westland and exit onto Warren Avenue near Telegraph. Hines Drive closes to traffic at 6:00 p.m. (Mon-Thu) and at 5:00 p.m. (Fri-Sun). There is a $5 fee per vehicle to enter the Lightfest.
Wild Lights is a spectacular holiday light display at the Detroit Zoo. For 22 nights, more than two million LED lights will illuminate trees, buildings and animal sculptures on a trail through the front half of the Zoo. The event will also feature live entertainment, seasonal refreshments, arts and crafts, storytelling and ice carving. It runs from 5:30 to 9 p.m. 28-30; December 5-7, 12-14, 19-23, 26-31, 2014. Advance tickets are $8 or $10 at the gate (ages 2 and up); Under 2 FREE; Parking is $6 per car.
If it’s a sports mood that you’re after, there’s always a Detroit Red Wings game you can take in. And if a little friendly rivalry between two teams from across the river, is what you crave, the next Red Wings versus the Toronto Maple Leafs is on December 10th in the Joe Louis Arena. (Go Leafs!)