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Posted on Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Musings on the week: From Stadium Bridge to living in the brainiest city

By Tony Dearing

Musings on the news of the past week:

The Stadium Boulevard bridges are about to be reduced to rubble, and the good news is that it won’t be because they collapsed on their own. Work begins Monday to tear down the existing 83-year-old spans over South State Street and the nearby Ann Arbor Railroad tracks so that they can be replaced. The work had to wait until the end of the Michigan football season, but at least it is underway now, and while the construction zone will create inconvenience in the area, no one can dispute that the replacement of the bridges is much needed and long overdue. For too many years, the deteriorating bridges stood as a testament to Ann Arbor’s failure to address basic infrastructure needs while pursuing pet projects like the new Ann Arbor Justice Center or the underground parking structure on Fifth Avenue. City officials delayed dealing with the bridges while they gambled that Ann Arbor would be able to secure federal funds for the work, and in this case, the gamble paid off. The city was able to secure a $13.8 million federal grant, with the assistance of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn. Ultimately, that worked out well for the city, allowing it to avoid having to dip into its fund for local street repairs. The new bridges will include features for pedestrians and bicyclists, much like the Broadway bridges when they were rebuilt. As frustrating as the wait was, and as distressing as the condition of the Stadium bridges had recently become, we’re glad this issue has been resolved and that work is now underway. This is the kind of public spending that the community can welcome and support.

Ann Arbor’s loss is Detroit’s gain. Sue McCormick, who has served the residents of Ann Arbor for a decade, is leaving us to begin her new job on Jan. 1 as director of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, which supplies water to about 4 million people in southeast Michigan. Most recently, McCormick has served as Ann Arbor public services administrator, and oversaw the rebuilding of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. She arrived in Ann Arbor in 2001 to take a position as water utilities director. We want to express our appreciation to McCormick for her service to our community. She has been a hard-working and respected public servant, and the institutional knowledge she has built up over the past decade has been impressive. These days, public service can sometimes seem to be a thankless job. But there are those who continue to do it diligently and capably. People like Sue McCormick deserve our thanks. We wish her well in her new role.

Ann Arbor is a city that has won many honors, and the most recent one is worth more than just bragging rights. In the past, we’ve frequently been named the best city for a variety of things, be it a best place to live, a best place to retire or a most workable city. Now, we also hold the title as America’s brainiest city, at least when measured by educational attainment. The Business Journals has named Ann Arbor as America’s smartest city, placing us ahead of Cambridge and Berkeley. According to the publication, 72 percent of all adults in Ann Arbor age 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree and 43 percent have an advanced degree. While this is a nice honor, it also speaks well for the future of the community. In the current knowledge economy, it’s becoming increasingly clear that educational attainment is one of the most important indicators in any community’s ability to achieve and sustain a vibrant economy. That being the case, our highly educated population puts us in an ideal position to thrive as a community. But Ann Arborites are so smart, they probably already knew that.



Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 11:52 p.m.

This is an editorial? A brainy city needs a brainy newspaper ... enough fluff, please!


Sun, Nov 27, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

Yup- plenty of PhD's here. Too bad there isn't any work. One of my former colleagues holds multiple patents, has always worked 80hrs a week, and would be happy to get a minimum-wage position these days. But wave that AA flag high! If you can induce an oxygen-deprivation hallucination, there's likely another article in that trip for ya....