So what did Detroiters receive instead??

Well, because of the influence of the DSR and others, the proposed high-speed rail lines operating along wide central malls within the center median of the expressways were never built. However, neither were the special bus ramps or downtown underground bus terminals. What resulted were a number of so-called "bus interchange" or bus boarding stations that were incorporated along the Edsel B. Ford (Crosstown) Expressway. What may be a surprise to many is that the forgotten remnants of some of these former freeway bus stops, or "rapid transit" boarding stations, are still in existence today.

The express route of the Plymouth Express (which was transferred to the Joy Road Express later that same year) would make two stops along its expressway route via ramps and lanes leading to street-level boarding stations like the ones pictured above. Coaches would exit the expressway via the exit ramp, follow a special lane to board passengers, and then merge back onto the expressway. Although the eastbound boarding station and lanes (highlighted above) were eventually removed, and the ramps reconstructed into a more conventional ramp configuration, the curving westbound Livernois entrance and exit ramp design remains virtually unchanged today. Only in recent years has the special bus-only turn-around lane been removed.

Similar boarding stations were located along the Ford Expressway–Grand River exits. Eastbound coaches would exit at the Grand River (Maybury Grand) exit, while westbound coaches would exit at the Grand River (Linwood) exit. Although I've been unable to uncover additional information on this particular boarding station, aerial photos seem to suggest that express coaches also re-entered the expressway via special bus only lanes. When the Dexter and Grand River Express routes were routed along the Ford and Lodge Expressways for a short period beginning in 1955, these boarding stations were used by both routes to enter and exit the Ford. However, this entire area was later completely redesigned with the addition of the Jeffries (I-96) and Ford (I-94) interchange, which was built during the early 1970s.

When the Edsel Ford (I-94) Expressway was being constructed during the early 1950s,
plans called for constructing four stairways to be built from the Woodward overpass
leading to the expressway below.  These stairways were part of a rapid transit plan
where passengers boarded DSR coaches from expressway level bus boarding stations.
Unfortunately, the end result became a
"Stairway to Nowhere!"  (MDOT photo)
The two photos above show the expressway level loading stations that were
originally built onto the Woodward Avenue overpass of the Edsel Ford
Expressway. The top photo shows the stairway leading to the westbound bus
only lane, while the bottom photo looks at the eastbound lane.  Although
unused and the pavement in need of repair, the eastbound bus lane, which lies
adjacent to the eastbound Woodward-John R. street exit ramp, still remains
today.  Of course, those stairways have long since been removed.
Information contained in the above article were compiled from various sources, including the Detroit News article titled "Stairway to
(December 20, 1955); miscellaneous Detroit Free Press news articles; Detroit's DSR, Part 3 by Jack E. Schramm
(May-June 1993 MCA); and the Detroit Transportation Board's
1945 Detroit Expressway and Transit System Report (posted at  
Archives).  Express bus route information courtesy of "DSR BUS ROUTES, 1945-1975" (May-June 1993 edition of Motor
Coach Age magazine, pgs.30-40).
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In the Sunday, January 2, 1955, edition of The Detroit News, DSR general manager Leo J. Nowicki was quoted as saying,
"...with the opening of new stretches of the Ford and Lodge expressways and the completion of the Ford-Lodge interchange, DSR buses will be able to move with a speed and ease unmatched by subways or other rapid transit systems now in existence elsewhere."

Shortly afterward, the DSR launched its new Plymouth Express bus service on Monday, January 31, 1955. The Plymouth Express would become the first DSR bus route to operate along "two" Detroit expressways, and the first to utilize the new Ford-Lodge Interchange — portions of which first opened on January 18, 1955. A Detroit Free Press article regarding the new service stated....
"...From [the Ford Expressway] patrons are whisked downtown in a record 13 minutes, including two stops for passengers at Livernois and Grand River where special loading stations are incorporated in the Ford Expressway."

Many may be surprised to learn that the remnants of one of these "special loading stations" can still be found today along the Edsel Ford (I-94) Freeway, nearly sixty years later.

This 1956 aerial photo of the Edsel
Ford Expressway at Livernois
reveals two special exit ramps that
were incorporated into the
expressway.  DSR express buses
would exit the expressway at
Livernois via the regular exit ramp.
However, the buses would then turn
left onto a special lane reserved for
buses, where it would  board and
discharge passengers at street level
loading stations.  The buses would
then re-enter the expressway from
the bus lane by merging into the
regular entrance ramp back onto the
expressway.  The loading station
pictured to the north
(portions of  
which still exist today)
was used by
westbound express coaches.
A similar ramp was also built at the
Ford Expressway–Gratiot Avenue
exit, but never used for bus service.

(Source: WSU / DTE Aerial Photo Collection)
In addition to removing the stairways, workers would also widen and lengthen the westbound John R expressway entrance ramp, which passes below Woodward at that same point before merging into the westbound lanes of the Ford. City officials reported back then that the total cost of the reconstruction work, most of which involved the ramp alterations, would be $63,500. Those alterations which were made to the westbound ramp in 1960 is what remains there today. However, aside from the removal of the stairways, no further alterations were made to the eastbound bus lane, which remains — neglected, ragged and worn — to this day.

So what did Detroiters receive after all those post-WWII promises? Of course a number of the freeways were built, but as far as mass transit goes, Detroiters received a couple of unused stairs, winding exit ramps, and a few deserted bus lanes. OH WOW!!!

This photo (taken prior to the removal of the bus lanes) shows
a more recent view of the Ford Freeway (I-94) at Livernois.
Although the westbound ramp configuration still resembles
the era when the loading stations were in operation, the
eastbound ramps have been completely redesigned.  A more
conventional exit and entrance ramp design has replaced the
former winding ramps.  A Marathon service station now
resides in place of the former bus loading station area.
This photo also shows a recent aerial view of the Ford
Freeway (I-94).  Here the Woodward Avenue overpass
is in view.  Although much of this area has been
redesigned, including the alteration of the westbound
John R. entrance ramp under Woodward,  the
eastbound bus only lane, adjacent to the eastbound
John R.–Woodward exit ramp, still remains today.
(click-on both photos to view larger images)
The short video clip to the left follows D.S.R. GM diesel coach #1300
as it exits the eastbound Edsel B. Ford Expressway to the street level
boarding station which was at one time located along the Livernois
Avenue exit and entrance ramps. In this video clip, filmed in the
summer of 1955, the coach follows along the path highlighted in the
aerial photo above. From January 31, 1955 through November 21,
1955, this special loading station, incorporated into the Ford
Expressway, was serviced by the DSR's new Plymouth Express bus
route. This exit ramp was later redesigned into its current configuration
sometime during the early-to-mid-sixties.
Video-clip duration: 01:03
(video added 07/26/08)
To view a slightly longer video clip, which also includes this segment and
just a bit more, visit the web-page:
Preserving the History of Public Transportation in and around the City of Detroit,
...from "Steel Wheels to Rubber Tires."
In September, 1943, a committee appointed by then Detroit Mayor Edward J. Jeffries, Jr. released its expressway plan for Detroit. It was hoped that this seven-man Street Improvement Committee could offer solutions to alleviate the city's troubling traffic congestion problem, as Detroit prepared to enter the post-WW-II years.

Proposals by the Wayne County Road Commission, the City Plan Commission, and others were also submitted.

Finally, in February of 1945, a detailed study developed for the Detroit Transportation Board was released. The document was titled, "Detroit Expressway and Transit System," and included proposals to build a complex expressway network and a bus and rail rapid transit system across the city of Detroit.

The report advocated the building of a network of expressways that would radiate outward from the downtown area, as well as a major "Crosstown" superhighway that would travel east-west along the Harper-McGraw corridor.

In addition to a major expressway network, the committee also released its findings on mass transit. The study proposed utilizing multiple-unit PCC streetcars operating as high-speed trains within the central mall portion of the entire Crosstown Expressway, and along certain portions of the Grand River Expressway. The plan called for maintaining streetcar operation on Woodward Avenue, but converting the existing streetcars lines on Fort, Gratiot, Jefferson and Michigan over to electric trolley-buses. Upon reaching the downtown central business district, all streetcars and trolley-buses would then dip below ground and operate via a subway. A number of underground stations were also planned for the downtown subway route, terminating at a new underground plaza, which would be built underneath Cadillac Square. In addition, larger-size express buses were proposed for routes along Grand River and Gratiot, that would travel along the proposed Crosstown, Grand River and Hastings Expressways.

The above map shows the initial expressway plan released by Mayor Jeffries' Street Improvement Committee in
Sept 1943.  With the exception of the Ford and Southfield expressways, and some portions of the Lodge, Chrysler
and Fisher, most of these proposed expressways were never built.   
(photo courtesy of DetroitYES.com)
However, as with most rapid transit proposals planned for Detroit, this 1945 Detroit Expressway and Transit System plan also met considerable opposition. But this time the opposition would come from an unlikely source — the city's own transportation department. In November of 1946, the city-owned Department of Street Railways (DSR) released its own study on Detroit's transportation future. Since the DSR had been advocating since the mid-1930s the elimination of its rail service, it basically opposed any plan to expand streetcars, or the continuance of any type of rail operation, whether via a subway or along the median strip of an expressway.

Instead, the DSR pushed for an alternative expressway plan that only included a network of high-speed bus routes operating along the city's expressway network. These buses would then exit via exclusive bus ramps to four downtown underground terminals. The DSR plan also called for the construction of several bus interchange stations to be built along the expressways themselves — an idea opposed by the engineers who prepared the Detroit Transportation Board report. The DSR report considered the high-speed bus plan "a superior type of rapid transit" and more economically feasible.

The 1945 Detroit Transportation Board plan included this cut-away drawing illustrating how the proposed Crosstown and
Grand River expressways would provide for rapid transit rail cars operating within the planted dividing median mall of the
expressway.  The Detroit DSR opposed this and any proposal that included streetcars.  
(courtesy of DetroitYES.com)
Perhaps the most bizarre bus stop of them all existed along the Woodward Avenue overpass to the Edsel B. Ford Expressway. That's where four stairways, costing a total of $29,500, were built from Woodward down to the expressway below.

In an attempt to accommodate the DSR's vision of providing Detroiters "rapid transit" service through the use of express buses operating along the city's expressways, the stairs were to be used by DSR passengers moving to and from bus loading stations at the expressway level. The plan was that a new east-west express route would be started along the Ford Expressway.

Special bus lanes were incorporated into the expressway to access the bus loading stations that were located at the foot of the stairways. Express buses would enter the waiting area via the special bus lanes, board passengers waiting at the station, and then re-enter the expressway.

Apparently, the city's plans looked great on paper, but they were never carried out. The stairways would remain unused for nearly five years. With the access blocked off at the Woodward street level, the stairs became a reminder of what could have been.

In a December 20, 1959, Detroit News article titled, "Stairway to Nowhere," the DSR's Superintendent of Transportation Operations, James E. Bostick, was quoted as saying, "...The plan proved to be impractical. Surveys revealed there was not sufficient passenger volume to justify the new line, and it never was started."

Consequently, wrecking crews had to be called to correct the five year old mistake. City officials stated that it was going to cost money to remove the stairs. The stairways were slated to be removed in the spring of 1960.

(Reformatted 10-06-14)
(NOTE: Video clip courtesy of GM film "Let's Go To Town." – linked via YouTube)