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Hines Drive History

One of the most unique roads in Wayne County

Nature created the area known as Hines Park as a flood plain of the Middle Rouge River. That’s been the case for centuries and will continue to be the case. But rather than letting that land sit unused by everything but mosquitoes, or more likely, be gobbled up by industries in the early 1900’s, Wayne County adapted the land into a spectacular public park.

The idea originated with Henry Ford, who was one of the original Wayne County Road Commissioners. After deeding several of his properties over to the County after he had left the Commission, the County devised a plan to use the land for a public park. Not only did converting this area to open space keep potentially polluting businesses away from the river, it provided a natural safety valve of sorts: if the park remains an area where flooding can occur naturally, nearby homes and businesses could be spared.

For decades the park was used just as it was intended – as a destination place for recreation. When it flooded, it was no big deal, because people tended to not use the park when it rained anyway.

Since then, however, with the growth of the suburbs, Hines Drive [the road] has evolved into an extremely popular commuter route.

Workers traveling from Northville to Dearborn, for example, discovered it as a way to avoid the bland landscape of state freeways and stop-and-go of the "mile" roads. Today, more than 22,000 vehicles use Hines Drive every day, most of them as a way to get from Point A to point B. While this does make it more inconvenient for some, the fact is that the road remains fully open more than 95 percent of the time.

After a period of extreme neglect during the 1970’s-80’s, Hines Park has been revitalized with the help of the passage of a 1/4-mill tax that has made possible better maintenance and new picnic tables, grills, soccer fields, pavilions and much more. Meanwhile, the County’s roads division has been making improvements to the road to make the scenic drive that much more enjoyable.

So, while flooding does keep part of the park and road off limits for a small percentage of the year, Hines Drive is still an amenity that residents of Wayne County can once again be very proud of.