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Patriotic hyperbole is the tactic du jour for garnering public support — no matter how insincere the sentiments. This transparent strategy has been employed by lots of individuals (George W. Bush) and institutions (Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, etc.). Now you can add the Michigan Department of Transportation to the list.

For more than a decade, MDOT has considered expanding truck and train terminals in southeast Michigan. It says the expansion is needed to accommodate the projected increase in truck traffic during the next 25 years. But MDOT recently came up with a new reason: America’s defense.

In a statement last week, MDOT said national defense is reliant on truck and train transportation. It went so far as to quote an unnamed military traffic commander: “Our nation’s military goes to war on rails.”

“They have been studying this project for 10 years and this is the first mention of any military need,” says Kathryn Savoie, who helped organize Communities for a Better Rail Alternative, a southwest Detroit group that wants its terminal improved, not expanded.

MDOT proposes expanding the Livernois-Junction terminal in southwest Detroit from about 300 acres to 890 acres. Residents are fighting the plan, which would result in an increase of 8,000 trucks a day in the neighborhood and the demolition of about 180 homes and businesses.

“If they can cloak it [terminal expansion] in homeland security and national defense, I think they believe it will be more palatable to people,” says Karen Cavanaugh, a member of the opposition group.

MDOT, which is scheduled to complete its terminal study next year, did not return News Hits’ calls. Maybe its brass was busy plotting a battle plan for a march on southwest Detroit.

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