The concept of making Woodward Avenue in south Oakland County a thoroughfare traveled by multiple forms of transportation that move through one unified, "linear" community is taking shape with the award of a $15,000 grant.
The Urban Land Institute's Community Action Grant will fund the latest phase in the Transform Woodward: Woodward Avenue Linear City concept, which aims to identify ways land use can be changed to support transit-oriented development.
The Woodward Avenue Action Association, or WA3, an economic and community development organization with the mission of improving the visual, economic, functional and historic character of the 27-mile All-American Road and national scenic byway, is the driving force behind a five-city consortium working to change the the way the corridor is used and traveled.
Berkley, Birmingham, Ferndale, Huntington Woods and Royal Oak are part of the task force using the grant money to identify the changes that might move the corridor away from its dominance by the almighty automobile. SMART, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Beaumont Hospital, and the Detroit Zoo are also on the task force.
"These are five separate communities but collectively we're all one community when it comes to Woodward," says Heather Carmona, executive director of WA3.
The cities got together in October 2010 to evaluate how south Oakland County figured into plans to bring mass transit to metro Detroit. One project, light rail on Woodward through Detroit, will end at 8 Mile, leaving south Oakland County out.
"We came together due to a lack of consensus on a public transit plan," says Carmona. "We needed to start thinking about what that next link will be."
"But what's happening now is less about transit and more about land use."
The grant from the Urban Land Institute will pay to research land use strategies, conduct policy and education and support promotional activities to roll out plans. The information will assist task force cities to identity land use and zoning and master plan changes needed to support transit-oriented development.
"It's really a progressive group of folks that's thinking big picture," Carmona says. "These are elected officials that have the ability to change affect policy and make decisions."
Carmona says the goal is to have "working drawings and visionary plans" completed by year's end.
"This is a great shot in the arm to get the group moving," Carmona says.
Source: Heather Carmona, executive director, Woodward Avenue Action Association
Writer: Kim North Shine