Let There Be Light

For a long time, the specifics of how to fix Detroit’s dilapidated infrastructure has been heavy on the rhetoric, and light on the details.  One of the most obvious shortcomings that the city faces is the sheer volume of street lights that are dark.  According to this article, only about a third of the city’s 88,000 street lights function.  Due to decades of underinvestment, decaying neighborhoods, and sheer laziness have led to this situation becoming so prevalent.

For several years now, Detroit has become accustomed to fiscal crises, skirting along the cliff of total insolvency.  The debates to which we’ve become accustomed, ostensibly to rectify the situation, have done a lot to throw off heat (that his resentment, obfuscation and stalling) and very little to illuminate (forge consensus, craft policies and move the situation in the right direction).  So for Mayor Bing’s office to finally release a plan of operations as to how to combat one of the most widespread problems the city faces is long overdue.

Bing’s plan calls for a four-year, $160 million course of action that identifies which areas are priorities, work on those first, and then move onto less densely populated areas.  In keeping with the oft-repeated mantra of ‘right sizing,’ not all portions of the city are being afforded the same urgency, which, pragmatically speaking, is spot on.  It would be nice if the city had the wherewithal to fix the entire system at once, but that’s a far cry from the capabilities of the city.  Instead, by focusing on those areas which demonstrate the potential to grow, Bing’s plan focuses on alleviating the problem in the most vibrant areas, and the moving outward from there.

Bing’s plan is a welcome step in the right direction towards fixing a very common problem in Detroit.  And, for once, moving beyond the philosophical domain into the practical, we may, for once, be able to avoid the heated debates which do little for the greater good, and focus on illuminating, both literally and figuratively, the city of Detroit as to the best route to proceed with fixing our own problems.


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