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FIRST PROJECT IN A STAGED PLAN - Serving: Michigan Central, Rosa Parks Blvd, Corktown, MGM Grand, Washington Blvd and Cadillac Square

Photo of Bruce Hain
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If you're going to put Michigan Central on the map you've got to be able to GET there - and this proposal would have the same effect for a great many places along its route. That applies especially to the areas west of the M-10 Highway, where a subway line would spark a big increase in commerce and development, with new construction and businesses coming in, along with opportunity to regulate for greater inclusion as well as increased livability and property values. It would also place the Ford research facilities at the center of a new attraction for the entire Detroit Community, and a big tourist draw.

This plan arose about two years ago in my musings about intercity rail development which I frequently attempt to delineate on the Google Earth platform. Michigan Central is singularly well suited for this kind of development, dating as it does from the golden years of American rail expansion. The extreme brilliance and versatility of the station's design stem from a period when this kind of expertise reached to heights as yet unequaled again in the Western Hemisphere. So we have a valuable gift at our disposal, from the days of stiff-leg derricks and steam shovels, to benefit all the aims which are now so much discussed, with a near-infinite degree of increased ease.

The Michigan Avenue Subway segment is part of a larger proposal consisting of two subway lines converging at and radiating from a central Cadillac Square station hub. The initial 1.8-mile segment, representing about a fifth of the envisioned buildout, would be extensible from both ends, as needed, and would provide an auspicious start on achieving a safe, fast and comfortable high-volume system of transit mobility for Detroit. The central-hub-and-spokes configuration would allow quick, high-volume transfer capacity, to enable the most convenient transit for the most passengers. A storage and maintenance facility large enough to serve the initial segment could be achieved by excavating the entire Cadillac Square underground station concurrent with construction of the initial 1.8-mile line.

Now posting and entering here this proposal earlier explored in the Explore Phase, without moving immediately to further the design: specifically that of the the Cadillac Square staging - intended to undergo repurposing from the maintenance facility of the first stage, to a central interchange and transfer point in the full buildout - because the proposal does not meet exactly with the parameters of the City:One Challenge, which have been laid out in fuller detail now, or at least insofar as I have finally located them. (I had written somewhere during the Explore phase that I would pursue a detailed design at Cadillac Square for the next round. The staged construction at Cadillac HAS been explored thoroughly enough to know that it's possible though.)


     Bruce W. Hain                                                                                                   October 22, 2019

How will your solution benefit residents, workers, or visitors in the Michigan Central Station impact area? (1,000 characters)

It will make getting to the impact area easy for a large number of people - for both work and recreation - and bring them in increasing numbers like no other solution can - including increased and expanded businesses in Corktown, and more spectators at the Corner Ballpark. Access to Ford's new research locations and Michigan Central itself will become possible with currently-undreamed-of ease. A substantial boost to residential development, with increased number of dwellings in the impact area and occupants from all walks of life, would be a very likely result.

Describe your solution's stage of development

  • Initial Design - you are still exploring the idea and have not tested it with users

Insights from previous testing (500 characters)

Due to it's nature as a linear construction project intended for transportation, the proposal is not given to user testing until completion. The design is tested at every point in it's conception and development, and the defects are gradually weeded out while propositions envisioned with the original spark of conception are proven. None of this though, overrides the necessity of starting out with a well conceived and generally useful plan.

Tell us about your team or organization (500 characters)

I consider myself the foremost US rail transportation planner of my generation - By Default - since, due to the nature of today's railroad industry expansion is minimal, and minimalist. I base my claims on my study of the great 20th Century projects which it is possible to measure with surprising accuracy in the Google Earth platform, and other drawings I have found. With this knowledge can be divined extremely heroic yet unintrusive plans, that people will actually want to ride!

Size of your team or organization

  • I am submitting as an individual

Team or Organization URL


Are you submitting as a student team?

  • No

Are you submitting as a team from the Impact Area?

  • No

Funding Request

  • $250,000

Rough Budget (500 characters)

Any pilot project would necessarily include construction of the entire 1.8-mile line being the first stage, and so the funding amount would be much higher than the amount requested. However, there are considerable savings possible in the process of producing a buildable plan over what is customary. These could be applied to achieve it for somewhat less than the maximum allowable request, so that some might be left over for writing the remaining documentation needed to achieve realization.

Describe how you would pilot your idea (1000 characters)

A buildable plan could be achieved, given some detailed preliminary drawing yet to go, by collaborating with a gifted student at the near-professional stage from Michigan Tech, Penn State or University of Illinois. Only two alternatives (the permitted minimum) would be considered for environmental review. Assuming the design work could be undertaken as part of the student's course of study under auspices of the school, we would be afforded detailed geographical survey information that makes the work easy. There are ways to get that information available with any design platform the student may choose according to his/her expertise, and these can be leased with geographical specificity. Other detailed measurements are possible to get without a survey, and geological information is available on the internet in some detail. There is knowledge of sub-surface structures available in most places without resorting to markouts, and local building experience makes ground conditions well known.

Describe how you would measure the success of your pilot (1000 characters)


Sustainability Plan (500 characters)

General usefulness is the gauge of success, along with whether it can be achieved for a reasonable cost. No other mode is capable of providing the usefulness of a subway in the proposed location - owing to it's high-volume capacity and the prospect for heavy use of its stations, particularly at and near the end points. Rail service is the single most enabling factor for making Michigan Central a self-supporting success. The Michigan Avenue Line would enable that as it has never been done before.

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Photo of Matteo Ruffino

Added my heart. I'm all for actual rail of any kind in Detroit.

Photo of Bruce Hain

Thanks, glad to hear it!

Photo of Bruce Hain

Thanks for your applauds - guess it looks like we're not quite ready for rail transit as all rail entries have now been dropped.

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