No more bridges to nowhere, but…


President Obama said in his stimulus—ooops, jobs—speech last night that not a penny of his proposed $447 billion spending will go toward building "bridges to nowhere." But apparently "trains to nowhere" are just fine.

Days before the president took to the podium, his Federal Transit Administration gave the green light to my fair city, Detroit, to build a light rail on Woodward Avenue—an area more lifeless than Robert Byrd, the West Virginia senator who died last year. According to Megan Owens, the executive director of Transit Riders United, a Detroit-based advocacy group, the transit administration's approval raises the likelihood that the project—whose price tag is expected to be $500 million —will go forward from 80 percent to 90 percent. About $300 million of this will be paid by you, dear readers, and your fellow federal taxpayers

The Woodward rail is supposed to be the first leg of a regional transit system linking Detroit to surrounding counties. But no one in Michigan has a clue how the rest of the project—whose total cost will run into tens, even hundreds, of billions of dollars—will be financed. There is talk about getting Detroit's neighboring counties to impose a transit tax on businesses and residents. But the likelihood of that happening is the same as my dog being reborn as Albert Einstein given the bitter rivalry between Detroit and them. In any case, Michigan, whose unemployment rate is over 14 percent, needs a transit tax like it needs a bullet in its head.

So the odds are that the Woodward rail will be built. And for a few years Detroit's construction workers will live well. And then the rail will be inaugurated with great fanfare. And then it will run empty at a loss for decades, sucking poor Detroit taxpayers drier and drier and hastening their exodus from the city. And then it will return to nature as the area where it is being built is already in the process of doing.

For some vivid footage, watch's absolutely brilliant segment on the project here.

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  1. In any case, Michigan, whose unemployment rate is over 14 percent, needs a transit tax like it needs a bullet in its head.

    But Michigan really does need a bullet in the head.

  2. an area more lifeless than Robert Byrd, the West Virginia Congressman who died last year

    My papa taught me that you never, ever explain your own jokes.

    1. Or better yet, if you need to explain the joke, don’t make it in the first place.

      Leave the humorous analogies to Tim and the Jacket.

      1. Six of one, half a dozen of the others.

        If no one catches the joke, then it was the wrong joke for the audience.

        1. Anybody who didn’t get the joke without the Robert Byrd reference shouldn’t even be_______________________________________(fill in the blank, a new game show!)

          1. Well, actually the joke requires the reference, just not the explanation that followed it. But you can still play the game!

    2. Dalmia is more lifeless than Letterman.

  3. 9.3 miles, $500m, so that’s about 11k per foot

    plus, byrd was a senator, not a congressman, but he’s still dead as far as we know

    1. Senators are congressmen too. They just like the different nomenclature because they think they’re special.

    2. Congress is comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives. All the fuckers therein are Congressmen or Congresswowen or Maxine Waters.

      Yet another example of how fucking stupid the cable talking heads are, is hearing how often they misuse the terms.

      1. FUCK!!!! “women” in Congresswomen.. I go sleepy now.

  4. But don’t forget that economically depressed areas will transform into bustling centers of commerce once a TRAIN! is built. Or so we are told.

    1. No doubt that railroads (and later highways) spurred development when they opened up vast regions of undeveloped space (e.g., the “west”).

      But it’s stupid to think that a 9 mile rail line is going to rejuvenate a decaying urban environment.

      1. Both railroads and highways created incentive for development only when they created previously unavailable transportation access to an area. If this section of Detroit already has empty roadz, then transportation is not the problem for development.

  5. I drive up Woodward from downtown periodically for shits and grins, see what’s new (um, not much), etc. I have NO idea who’s going to be on this train.

    If it weren’t my tax money paying for it, I’d just enjoy Teh Stoopid. But it is my tax money, so I’m going to be pissed every time I see it run around empty, like that useless, fucking People Mover monorail that’s STILL in service (why??).

    They never learn…

    1. For the record, the People Mover is not a monorail. It runs on a conventional railroad track elevated above the streets (and loses millions of dollars per year).

      1. I was flabbergasted when I first experienced that thing in person. If there was ever an actual design principle employed in conceiving the People Mover, I can only guess it is called something like Modularity as an Absolute Impossibility.

  6. You know, why is any of my money going to Detroit? Can someone explain why I can be compelled to give them my money? What’s the justification again?

    1. Because someone needs Michigan’s electoral votes in 2012? When this latest boondoggle is finally judged a failure, Obama will be living on the Vineyard and toting up the $100,000 fees for the speeches he will give about how his administration was done in by evil Republicans.

    2. I can explain but I’m not going to.

  7. What am I missing here? There are already buses which travel up and down Woodward Avenue. What benefit would light rail provide that the buses are not providing (besides graft)?

    1. But it’s a train and they’re, like, you know, nifty and stuff while buses are all ugly and dirty and really yucky. Besides all my friends say that they might seriously consider riding a train someday but would never ride a bus.

  8. I don’t understand who they are even trying to transport, and to where, for what reason? I bet that the unemployment rate is something like 40% along woodward from Downtown to 8 mile, which is where they are proposing this. There are no jobs outside of downtown, so what workers from 8 mile are now able to go downtown who couldn’t take the bus previously.

    At least run it to Royal Oak, which is still even a waste.

    What an incredibly stupid idea.

  9. Geez, what is it with socialists and trains? Is it some weird sexual repression thing?

    1. You think the untermensch are going to drive themselves to the camps?

  10. PJ said it best-

    “Politicians love trains. Why? Because they can tell where the tracks go. They know where everybody’s going. For policiticians it’s all about control and power. Politicians hate cars because cars make people free. Not only free in the sense that they can go anywhere they want, which bugs politicians, but they can move out of the political districts that the politicians represent.

    Politics itself is nothing more than an attempt to achieve power and prestige without merit. That’s the definition of politics.
    ~P.J. O’Rourke on

  11. I had never heard of the lady lawmaker until this afternoon. And I now have faith in the educational system that was able to transform an educable mentally retarded girl into a legislator, who is now able, with forked tongue and a profound lack of knowledge, to utter some of the most trenchant gibberish ever unttered by law-making vermin. What a cockroach.

  12. Woodward Avenue?an area more lifeless than Robert Byrd, the West Virginia senator who died last year.

    If you have to explain the joke…

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