By Dean Adams Curtis
Soon after greeninterstate.com went online, we got email from Kim Gallagher, a project manager for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, who was working to improve understanding about, and interest in, the historic U.S. 12 Heritage Trail in Michigan, a former Saux Indian trail that became a rutted wagon and stagecoach route between Detroit and Chicago, then evolved into the “Chicago Road” for vehicles with internal combustion engines to travel between the two cities. Then U.S. 12 was bypassed in 1956 by the interstate system. Like on so many other formerly critical routes, the towns along Michigan 12 were often forgotten.
Kim Gallagher thought that the historic U.S. 12 Heritage Trail in Michigan was a perfect fit for the green interstate. It was decided to call a meeting at a location along 12.
Representatives from towns along M12 got together for the day-long meeting in a barn on the Rentschler Farm, in Saline, Michigan, a beautiful town near Ann Arbor that features, among other attractions, the lovely classic home pictured at left.
During the meeting in the Saline barn, M12 town representatives discussed transforming their historic route into a statewide green interstate segment, known as a green highway. Alongside the folks from towns along the historic route were representatives from Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT), including the agency’s head of rural planning, who is a supporter of green highways.
And in that barn near Saline that day people started thinking about how being part of a green highway that was part of an overall green interstate network (GIN) would be great for their downtown business districts. (See the Rentschler Farm in Saline, Michigan at 9:50 into the video below.)
“We’ve got to run with this,” said one participant.
Perhaps another person at the meeting described it best. “It’s like a linear incubator.”
Soon after the meeting in the barn another development took place, Time.com published an article exploring the green highways concept. The Time author included the positive reaction by the folks at the National Route 66 Federation to the green highway/green interstate concept.
Route 66 runs along a diagonal southwest from Chicago to Los Angeles. It ends where the green interstate concept first came to me, in Santa Monica, California, but that’s the story for another post. Read the Time.com article via a right mouse click on the image.