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Posts from the ‘transportation’ Category

Transportation proposal a step forward on road funding, but detour bypasses public transit

There’s not much left to say about the sorry state of Michigan’s roads.

Oakland County alone has 660 miles in need of resurfacing. Tire insurance sales are through the roof. And then there was that picture of a pothole-repair truck swallowed by an epic pothole.

We all agree: Enough talk – let’s fix our roads.

A proposal from House Speaker Jase Bolger aims to do just that. Unfortunately, it aims to do only that.

As our Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M) allies point out in a new blog post, Bolger’s plan would raise an estimated $450 million in 2015 to fix roads. That’s less than half of what’s needed, but it’s a first step.

The problem is that the plan skirts a significant portion of the usual formula for allocating transportation funding as outlined in a law called Act 51. That means all of the money would go to roads. Public transportation would get nothing.

Here’s a breakdown from Trans4M of how Bolger’s proposal would shortchange public transit by sidestepping the top half of the Act 51 formula:

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Tug of war: Senate approves trails package while House panel cuts funding for—you guessed it—trails

The Senate today approved a package of bills to establish a Pure Michigan Trail Network - an encouraging sign that state lawmakers recognize the important role world-class trails and other outdoor recreation assets can play in growing local economies and enhancing quality of life.

The Senate package allows the director of the Department of Natural Resources to give trails and towns the Pure Michigan designation upon recommendation from the Natural Resources Commission. It also gives a nod to our state’s outstanding paddling by allowing the director to designate Pure Michigan Water Trails.  The bills also would change the Snowmobile and Trailways Advisory Council to the Trails Advisory Council.

“This package will bring the entire Michigan trails system into the spotlight,” said Nancy Krupiarz, executive director of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. “We have an incredible array of trails of all types, and we want to recognize them all and the towns that embrace them.”

The legislation makes place-based investments in outdoor assets a centerpiece of Michigan’s reinvention strategy, said Brad Garmon, MEC’s director of conservation and emerging issues. It also celebrates best-in-class trails that showcase Michigan’s natural beauty and cultural sites, rather than slapping the Pure Michigan label on lower-profile trails that serve an important practical purpose but don’t reinforce the Pure Michigan brand. Read more

Friday linkaround: Big week for cyclists and the DNR finds a lost toddler!

Good Friday everyone! Here are some items of interest from the week that’s drawing to a close:

It was a big week for our friends at the League of Michigan Bicyclists, with two legislative victories: House passage of revised right-turn signals and vulnerable roadway user legislation.

The state released this draft report last week on its findings regarding customer choice in the electric utility market. The report stays scrupulously neutral on the question of whether to expand competitive choice beyond the current 10% cap….perhaps indicating the governor will not be proposing significant changes to the program. More explanation on the choice cap is here (PDF)

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Today’s impromptu effort to change a little bitty corner of the world

Dear Dean Transportation:

Today (May 8th) there are about one-dozen Dean charter buses parked on Pere Marquette Street in Lansing (possibly related to Mitt Romney’s Lansing speech?) These buses have been idling for more than an hour with no occupants. It seems a tremendous waste of fuel, an unnecessary release of pollutants, and increases in carbon monoxide and other unhealthy byproducts that drift into the businesses, offices (mine included) and pedestrians along the street.

If Dean has no idling policy, it might be a worthwhile endeavor — both from a business/cost perspective and a good neighbor perspective.

Thank you for your time

Hugh McDiarmid Jr.

(We’ll share any response from Dean in a future update. As an aside, many other states have idling laws. Michigan does not.)

DTW shuttle: Too convenient?

Check out this pitiful example of how to cut off your nose to spite your face.

Lansing airport officials, abetted by community leaders and elected officials, scuttled a plan to improve Michigan Flyer bus service to Detroit Metropolitan Airport. They falsely believed that if it is too convenient, it might take passengers away from Lansing.  The truth is, bus service to Detroit Metro has been successful because it provides a needed service for folks going there anyway. Lansing residents, in comments taken as part of a regional visioning process, want the service.

We pointed much of this out to decision makers in an analysis that is available Page 40 of this PDF. But none of that mattered. Nor, apparently, did it matter that the Flyer service takes cars off the road – reducing congestion, lessening pollution, reducing fuel consumption and saving Michiganders’ money.

Until our leaders truly understand that we sink and swim together we will not thrive. Blocking convenient options for Detroit-bound Lansingites is not an economic strategy. It is short-sighted. And an example of why Michigan’s oft-parochial worldview tends to keep us from moving forward together.