Saturday, May 16, 2009

Speaking Dequindre

Detroit is still on my mind often as I see the duality of ongoing issues and inspirational stories of rebirth. It was great to see news of the recent opening of the Dequindre Cut, a section of abandoned rail line connecting the waterfront to areas of the Central City. I remember the Dequindre fondly, as when we were on the SDAT trip last fall, I got a sneak preview of the trail - and I also had the distinction of pronouncing 'De-quin-dre' wrong, oh lets say half a dozen times (trust me, it's harder than it sounds).

:: images via Detroit Free Press

The initial 1.2 mile stretch is part of a much larger network of greenways and other multi-modal transportation infrastructure as Detroit learns to love it's relationship with the car - but allow other forms of transportation some space in the urban fabric. A map of the new and future system is found below:

:: image via Detroit Free Press

As seen in the photo below, the linear route used to be overgrown with vegetation, which has a certain appeal (although probably not the most safe condition)... and the bike/ped path cleaned up the verges a bit... inevitably with vegetation creeping back in a manageable way. Treehugger had a bit about it with a video as well, which I couldn't get to load... they could have picked a less barren/highway looking photo - but check out the idiotic vitriol in the comment stream that was elicited about this one... interesting.

:: image via Treehugger

The part I like the best, although it's hard to see in the photos above, is that the design didn't just erase all of the history of the corridor (although I wish more of the pioneering veg would have been restored - say, like the High Line). On my visit, we witnessed the overpasses where graffitti was left intact, and some of the old abutments and other structures - rather than being removed, were left as context for the trail (minus bottles and tires...).

:: image via M-bike

:: image via Metropolis

Nice to see it all come together, and the people of Detroit should be proud of this one, and other communities should look to this as a great model.

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