Highways for Habitats – Why are we running this contest?

Keystone Parkway CroppedYou might be thinking, ‘Highways are highways are highways, what else could they be?’  We believe there are endless possibilities for the almost 10,000 miles of highways in Michigan.

Let’s Save Michigan advocates for policies and practices that support, revitalize and promote Michigan’s cities.  For decades, disinvestment and our auto culture have contributed to the decline of our great public spaces.  But thankfully, there is a new understanding among many leaders that we need to reinvest in our downtowns, and rebuild the spaces that make people choose to live, work, and play in Michigan’s cities of all sizes.



Highways and main streets are both vital to our state’s communities and economy, and finding an appropriate balanced solution between the two to enhance our cities is key. As the Oregon Department of Transportation put it:

“When main street also serves as a state highway, communities are faced with significant challenges. The biggest challenge is to strike a balance between the needs of pedestrians, shoppers, employees, business owners, and residents with the needs of through traffic—both auto and freight—to move safely and efficiently over longer distances.”

Much of our taxpayer dollars (and federal funding) goes towards creating, repairing, maintaining, expanding and generally promoting a culture of highways.  What many people don’t know is that a lot of those dollars could go towards different types of infrastructural improvements.  This competition hopes to inspire Michiganders to imagine alternative ways to spend transportation funding that provide more for our communities than additional lanes.


Following are several organizations and publications that can help you think about how to design better throughways for your community.  You can also browse our Highways for Habitats blog series.

Michigan Highways
A website devoted to Michigan’s highways and trunklines.

Case Studies of the Access and Mobility Impact of Freeway Removal
A publication studying the impacts of removing or rerouting freeways in nine US cities.

Placemaking resources from the Michigan Municipal League, including community plans and case studies from around the state.

Main Street Handbook
A handbook for communities working to enhance the vitality of their main street when a highway runs through it.  Created by Oregon’s Transportation and Growth Management Program, which supports community efforts to expand transportation choices for people.

Complete Streets Coalition
The National Complete Streets Coalition propels a movement to ensure that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind.

Context Sensitive Solutions
Context sensitive solutions (CSS) is a collaborative, interdisciplinary approach that involves all stakeholders in providing a transportation facility that fits its setting. It is an approach that leads to preserving and enhancing scenic, aesthetic, historic, community, and environmental resources, while improving or maintaining safety, mobility, and infrastructure conditions.

Congress for the New Urbanism
A leading organization promoting walkable, mixed-use neighborhood development, sustainable communities and healthier living conditions.  Their Highways to Boulevards: Reclaiming Urbanism, Revitalizing Cities initiative for transportation reform is especially relevant.

Project for Public Spaces
A planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities.

Project for Public Spaces – Rightsizing Streets Guide
A rightsizing resource to highlight the accomplishments of communities and share street design best practices.

DC Streetsblog
Streetsblog is a daily news source connecting people to information about sustainable transportation and livable communities.




Let’s Save Michigan is extremely grateful to Detroit Bikes for donating the contest grand prize – a new Detroit-made Detroit Bike!





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