Posts Tagged ‘I-94’

A cycling perspective on the Detroit Consent Agreement

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

With a 5-4 City Council vote, it appears the City has at least temporarily kept Governor Rick Snyder from appointing an emergency finance manager.

That vote was for a “historic” consent agreement, according to the Detroit Free Press:

In the historic consent agreement between the city and state over the management of Detroit, the city agreed to give up — at least temporarily — a good deal of sovereignty over its financial affairs.

So aside from the hope of future solvency, what does Detroit get in return?

A modest amount of increased state spending — and an array of promises.

The 53-page agreement does keep City Council in charge of policy, which is a positive for our Complete Streets efforts. Detroit’s road money is separate from the general budget. We’ve argued that our Complete Streets ordinance wouldn’t add to the city deficit. It just divides up the road funding pie in a slightly different way.

The agreement also contains some state promises which affect Detroit cyclists to varying degrees.

The Positives

The state vows to:

  • Improve public lighting by working with the city to create a separate authority to manage and finance streetlights.” Working street lights can reduce crashes.
  • “Move ahead with the New International Trade Crossing project.” The bridge plans do include a bicycle pathway.
  • “Invest in a regional, multi-modal system including BRT, bike paths and walkability.” We’re not sure if this means more state investment or just continued funding.
  • “Assist the market in applying for a federal TIGER grant to create a seamless trail system from the Riverfront through the Eastern Market, Brush Park, and Wayne State University areas.” It’s a little late. Detroit already applied.
  • Riverfront – Develop the Globe Building, expand Milliken State Park, dedicate a new launch for citizens near Riverfront Park and assist DEGC with resources and talent to transform Hart Plaza.” The latter likely refers to an expansion of Hart Plaza over land that was previously used for the Ford Auditorium.
  • Belle Isle – Create park funding for Belle Isle while ensuring continued City ownership by designating Belle Isle as a part of a cooperative relationship with Milliken State Park. This would include a long-term lease that would accrue the cost of the park’s maintenance and improvements out of the Park Endowment Fund. We will partner with Belle Isle Conservancy and the City to implement a master plan for the Island.”

The Belle Isle item is among the more interesting. Unfortunately the Free Press already got it wrong with an article titled, “Belle Isle likely won’t be free anymore.

If the island is managed like other Michigan State Parks, there will only be an annual $10 fee for arriving by motor vehicle. One can walk or bike into state parks for free and the same would likely be true with Belle Isle.

While some cheer that this small fee will keep out the less desirable elements, those elements won’t disappear. They’ll find another location, just like they do now when the island closes at 10pm. A fee is not a total solution.

The Big Negative

It can’t all be positive for Detroit cyclists, right? The state vows to:

  • “Accelerate a capacity improvement project for I-94 from I-96 to Conner Avenue, supporting more than 13,000 jobs between 2012 and 2020.”

This outdated, mostly unnecessary MDOT project will wipe out 9 bridges over the expressways, including some pedestrian bridges, Third Street, and John R. It effectively widens the I-94 scar through the community.

The Governor needs to get involved in this project since the cost/benefit numbers just don’t add up. It’s “benefit” is from a 1980’s frame of reference that put a priority on reducing rush hour congestion irregardless of the effects on the local community.

Fortunately some local activists are started to pull together some project opposition.

Cleveland: raising the bike advocacy bar

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The recent Cleveland protests over the Ohio Department of Transportation ignoring cycling certain echoes recent experiences with MDOT. From their Fort Street project to a Michigan Avenue repaving to the I-94 expansion, MDOT is ignoring Detroit’s non-motorized transportation master plan — a topic on the agenda for the next MDOT Metro Region non-motorized meeting in March.

But back to Cleveland, their protest has a cool video and song. Maybe that’s what we need to better get our basic message out.

We don’t need non-credible excuses or a willingness to listen. We need a consistent commitment to make Detroit a better place to walk and bike.

MDOT I-94 Widening project meetings

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

MDOT is hosting four meetings to discuss their plans to rehabilitate widen I-94 through the heart of Detroit.

Yes, they basically ignored non-motorized transportation when initially designing the project.

Yes, they are permanently removing bridges (e.g. John R) that are critical to Detroit’s non-motorized transportation plan.

No, they are not willing to remedy this issue in the Midtown area.

The project’s price tag? $1.7 billion. That’s billion with a “b”.

We will post more on this projects’ deficits soon, but here is MDOT’s meeting schedule:

Eastside meetings

(Co-sponsored by Wayne County Commissioner Bernard Parker and the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative)

Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010
2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.
Wayne County Community College District ? Cooper Conference Room
5901 Conner Road, Detroit

Midtown meetings

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010
9-11 a.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Cathedral Church of St. Paul ? Barth Hall (parking in back)
4800 Woodward Ave., Detroit

Special accommodations: 313-922-3311

The Potential Downside to the Economic Stimulus

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

There’s been a big push by many groups to get Green projects in the Obama economic stimulus package.  We’ve already mentioned the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s push.  The DNR Parks division has submitted about a quarter-million in infrastructure projects.  The Detroit Greenways Coalition has their trails submitted as well.

That’s all the good news.

The fear however is this stimulus package will also fund a significant amount of road expansion.


While many states are keeping their project lists secret, plans that have surfaced show why environmentalists and some development experts say much of the stimulus spending may promote urban sprawl while scrimping on more green-friendly rail and mass transit.

“It’s a lot of more of the same,” said Robert Puentes, a metropolitan growth and development expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington who is tracking the legislation. “You build a lot of new highways, continue to decentralize” urban and suburban communities and “pull resources away from transit.”

And decentralizing/sprawl also hurts bikability and walkability.

Some local concerns involve planned expressway expansion, notably I-75 in Oakland County and I-94 in Detroit.  Neither project made financial sense long before the recent declines in vehicle miles traveled.  Now they make less sense.

And they’re certainly not green, but they might get in the stimulus package.

The I-94 project is especially bad in that it would remove nine bridges over the expressways — permanently blocking bicycle routes within Detroit’s non-motorized transportation master plan.

And because the highway expansion was planned before the non-motorized plan, MDOT is ignoring the latter.  However, reading their Final Environmental Impact Statement only shows that MDOT wasn’t going to let non-motorized priorities get in the way of an expressway expansion.

That said, there’s not too much we can do until MDOT’s economic stimulus list becomes public and we see what’s on the list.