Gov Candidate Snyder attacks bike/ped project

The Michigan gubernatorial debate may not have helped too many with their voting decision this November, but it did bring out one surprise. That surprise was brought to our attention by fellow transportation nerd Transport Michigan.

Near the end of the debate, candidate Rick Snyder ripped MDOT for adding a pedestrian bridge while reconstructing the freeway interchange — arguably making this part of Geddes Road a Complete Street.

FINLEY: We all know Michigan has the worst roads in the nation. Mr. Snyder, would you support an increase in the gasoline tax to fix them?

SNYDER: I don’t support an increase in the gas tax, because we need to get efficient first. I mean, we need to look at value for money budgeting. Because if you go around our state our roads are terrible, but let’s tighten our belts, let’s be efficient and see where we can deploy these dollars to fix the roads that really need to be fixed. A classic illustration I used from the Ann Arbor area, if you went to the Michigan/Michigan State game you had to suffer over the Stadium Street bridge potentially. Two lanes are permanently closed on that bridge. I think it’s got a rating of like 2 out of 10. At the same, I live near Geddes Road and US 23. They just built a bike and pedestrian bridge across US 23 at the cost of millions of dollars. What they didn’t bother to tell us is a quarter mile south that there’s a bridge over the Huron River and there’s a bike and pedestrian path there. So let’s get efficient about where we’re deploying these dollars. There’s a much better way to do things. And that’s what we should focus on first.

Transport Michigan offers a great rebuttal.

Snyder is surely correct that inefficiencies exist in state transportation policy. But why target a much-needed bike/pedestrian bridge, when the state is spending far more colossal sums to widen roads across the state? We know from experience that expanding road capacity will only bring more congestion. Highway widening isn’t just wasteful: it ultimately worsens the problem it’s intended to fix. You’d think a candidate who favors walkable cities, and¬†opposes the crippling spread of urban sprawl, would see the need to link Washtenaw County’s two biggest towns with bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and see the foolishness of so many other more expensive roadway projects.

We agree. If Synder has ¬†provided a classic example of anything, it’s of someone giving an easy but impossible solution.

As Transportation Michigan aptly pointed out, the federal funding for this project could not be spent on the Stadium Boulevard bridge.

And according to Synder’s debate comments, if there’s another crossing within a quarter-mile, it’s a waste of transportation money. Is that correct?

If so, he didn’t bother to tell us there are two alternative routes for the Stadium Boulevard bridge within a quarter mile.

By his own logic, why is the Stadium bridge required at all?

What about Bernero?

We should add that candidate Virg Bernero’s response to the same question hinted that he’s done more of his homework and has a little better grip on Michigan’s transportation funding situation. He references MDOT’s inability to fully match federal funding and he understands at least some of the issues surrounding falling fuel tax revenues.

He is also the mayor of Lansing, a Bicycle Friendly Community, and his web site actually includes the word “bike” albeit once.

Virg will continue to support green transportation in our communities by making cities walkable and bikeable and increasing public transportation options.

While there was a reference to “walkable” and an undefined “green infrastructure”, we couldn’t find “bike” or it’s common permutations on the Synder web site.

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