Road Work On Michigan Avenue Exposes Part Of Detroit’s History

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On Woodward Avenue, millions are being spent installing a state of the art streetcar system. Over on Michigan less than a mile away, they’re about to re-bury streetcar tracks that have sat under the streets for decades since the trolleys left Detroit in 1956.

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Every once in awhile in the city you’ll see a road repair project that, for a few days or a week, reveals part of Detroit’s history. One of these times is right now in Detroit’s historic Corktown district. The road even has sections of its brick pavers left, adding a nice touch the neighborhood (when they’re taken care of).

Looking at Michigan and Trumbull, the corner of the old Tiger Stadium
Looking at Michigan and Trumbull, the corner of the old Tiger Stadium

We’re told it’s run of the mill resurfacing work on Michigan Avenue (a major road that sorely needs it). The rails aren’t pulled up as it’d be expensive, and they’re not going to go anywhere as nearly 60 years of traffic hasn’t moved them. The rail bed seems to be in good shape, as well. Note that it’s actually two sets of tracks you see, not one.

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As much as streetcars rolling down Michigan again would be awesome, it’s currently not in the cards. But one can dare to dream.

8 comments
  • Why not leave the tracks unburied?

    Construct a curbed median on the outside of both tracks on Michigan Ave.

    Preseve & restore the brick paver sections of the street as it gets closer to downtown.

    The major streets leading into downtown & Midtown Detroit should be brick & side walks should be tree lined & businesses can have neon signs that light up through the tree canopies.

    Create class.

  • as a small child i had to spend a lot of time at a prosthetics company that i believe was on woodward. i can remember seeing the trolleys out the front windows of the shop!

  • Good idea. Trolley tracks and stones comprise Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia; lovely touch.

  • My great-grandfather drove a trolley on Michigan Ave. It would be so nice to leave the tracks, and keep that history alive!

  • Will road work remove the tracks, or is MDOT just going pave over them?

  • It’s weird to say trollies aren’t in the cards. The RTA is currently studing transit along Michigan, Gratiot and Michigan, and no mode of transit has been precluded from the study. It’s no telling what they’ll find appropriate for this transit line.

  • Why not square them away and bring back the vintage trolleys it would not seem to be a bad idea and besides you got some of your work cut out for you Gomaco Co manufactures Vintage Trolleys in Ida Grove Iowa Seems to me the tracks look like they are in decent shape

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