Posts Tagged ‘Kirk Steudle’

Detroit Bike Shorts for June 7th

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Here are various bike-related updates from around the state and Metro Detroit area —

Model D Speaker Series: Urban Mobility

If you missed this event, don’t worry. Jason Rzucidlo has a nice writeup with photos.

Of course, Model D also covered the event.

Marja Winters, deputy director of the city’s Planning and Development department, said non-motorized transit options are an essential component to the mayor’s Detroit Works Project. Credit the growing movement across the country to urban areas, often for the diversity of options a city affords. “The quality of place is becoming the number one determining factor,” she said. “And ranking high in the decision-making process is the notion of alternative forms of transit.”

We probably would not have heard similar quotes from Detroit’s planning department just a few years ago. This really signals the great deal of progress and increased awareness that has happened during that time.

Bicycle Friendly State rankings

Michigan continues to drop in the state rankings developed by the League of American Bicyclists. The Mitten state is now ranked 22nd and was given a “D”.

This 10 spot drop since 2008 is likely attributable to new ranking criteria and the lack of progress in key areas — progress that other states have made. Michigan received an “F” score in the categories of Infrastructure, Evaluation & Planning, and Enforcement.

Ride challenge for MDOT Director

With the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood biking to work yesterday, we suggested MDOT’s Director Kirk Steudle could do the same via Twitter.

@michigandot OK Director Steudle. You’re next and please post pics

MDOT responded with “I forwarded your tweet to Dir. Steudle to let him know. Thanks! ”

GM’s Akerson calls for fuel tax increase

The unwillingness in Washington DC and Lansing to increase fuel taxes has helped led to a transportation funding crisis. (Yeah, sprawl and the lack of regional planning in Metro Detroit are factors as well.)

Bill Ford Jr. has previously advocated for a fuel tax increase. Now, so to has GM’s CEO Dan Akerson according to this Detroit News article.

A government-imposed tax hike, Akerson believes, will prompt more people to buy small cars and do more good for the environment than forcing automakers to comply with higher gas-mileage standards.

“You know what I’d rather have them do — this will make my Republican friends puke — as gas is going to go down here now, we ought to just slap a 50-cent or a dollar tax on a gallon of gas,” Akerson said.

“People will start buying more Cruzes and they will start buying less Suburbans.”

An increased fuel tax can also encourage more people to bike, walk, and use public transit, while providing improved funding.

I-275 Metro Trail

There was a reopening ceremony for a portion of the I-275 bike path on Saturday. We weren’t there, but the Detroit Free Press was. The I-275 path will continue to be expanded northward as the southern portion is rebuilt and reopened. You can stray up to date with the progress by visiting the Friends of the I-275 Pathway on Facebook.

Michigan Airlines Rail-Trail

The Spinal Column is reporting that the Surface Transportation Board has denied a quick abandonment for the rail corridor that many hope will soon become a trail.

STB board members denied Michigan Air-Line Railway’s petition because it didn’t “provide the Board with sufficient evidence regarding the revenues and costs associated with the line, thereby making it impossible to determine what burden, if any, (Michigan Air-Line) Railway incurs in continuing to operate the line.”

Nevertheless, Michigan Air-Line Railway still hopes to get the STB’s approval to abandon the railroad, therefore allowing the trail project to move forward.

“We’re still moving forward with the grant applications,” said Commerce Township Planner Kathleen Jackson. “The NRTF board doesn’t make the grant decision until December, and (Michigan Air-Line Railway) hopes to have an answer by then.”

We do hope this gets resolved prior to the Natural Resource Trust Fund grant decision is made in December. This is the third attempt at getting this grant which will help pay for most of the property.

Detroit bike shorts: MDOT, Trails, and Windsor

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

MDOT Director to remain

We heard a rumbling last week that a new director of MDOT would be named. That would have been a shame since Kirk Steudle has been very supportive of Complete Streets and non-motorized transportation.  However, his support of the DRIC had cost him Republican support, to the point where some asked the state attorney general to look into allegations of MDOT publishing misleading data.

The Free Press is now reporting that he will continue to lead MDOT. We think this is a big positive for Michigan bicyclists.

West Bloomfield trail to grow

The West Bloomfield rail trail just added 2.3 miles of new abandoned rail line according to the Spinal Column.

“This acquisition has been over three years in the making. We are excited that all the past work and negotiations will eventually result in a universally-accessible trail in a few years,” said Parks and Recreation Director Dan Navarre. “It’s wonderful that the grant funding made this acquisition possible by funding the majority of the purchase.”

We’re not sure when the trail will be resurfaced to match the existing trail conditions. The article makes it sound as though cyclists and walkers could use the trail before it is completed. That would  be similar to what happened with the Clinton River Trail (part of the same railroad corridor) in Rochester Hills.

Windsor’s Riverside Drive

The Windsor Star is reporting on continued, thought apparently limited opposition to redeveloping Riverside Drive.

The project, which would see bike lanes and new pedestrian crossings installed across the city’s entire riverfront from east to west, would produce a huge improvement to the quality of life for a large number of Windsor residents at a relatively low price, while providing a major boost to the city’s image.

City planners had considered widening parts of the road, which was originally built on a narrow right-of-way to service cottages along the Detroit River.

But widening the road for vehicular traffic was rejected as unwanted by a majority of city residents, who cherish the road’s rustic, tree-lined character for jogging and cycling, not to mention Sunday drives with the top down.

That plans sounds like a Complete Street to us. We hope to see it built.

What Complete Streets means for MDOT and transportation in Michigan

Sunday, August 8th, 2010

The following was issued by MDOT Director Kirk Steudle and sent to all MDOT employees on August 5th, 2010:

“Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful, it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful, it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident, it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.”
– King Whitney Jr., 1967

These words about change are as true today as they were in 1967. On Aug. 1, Gov. Granholm signed into law Complete Streets legislation to advance cooperation and coordination among transportation and local governmental agencies: Public Act 135, which amends Public Act 51 of 1951 governing the expenditure of state transportation funding; and Public Act 134, which amends the Michigan Planning Enabling Act. While it might be tempting to attribute the passage of these bills to pressure from one group or another, it is worth noting that both bills passed the Michigan House and Senate by wide margins: 85-21 and 31-0, respectively.

Here is a summary of the changes to Act 51 under PA 135:

Revisions to Act 51, Section 10(k)

  • Requires counties, cities, villages, and MDOT to consult with one another when planning a nonmotorized project affecting a transportation facility that belongs to the other.
  • Requires Section 10(k) improvements meet accepted practices or established best practices.
  • Requires Act 51 agencies to notify one another when their five-year nonmotorized programs are finalized.

New Act 51 Section 10(p)

  • Requires the State Transportation Commission (STC), within two years, to adopt a Complete Streets policy for MDOT, and to develop model Complete Streets policies for use by others.
  • Requires state and local agencies to consult and agree on how to address Complete Streets before submitting the Five-Year Program to the STC (exempts anything in an approved multi-year capital plan approved before July 1).
  • Allows MDOT to provide technical assistance and coordination to local agencies in the development and implementation of their policies.
  • Requires MDOT to share expertise in nonmotorized and multi-modal planning in the development of projects within municipal boundaries (“municipal” refers to townships, counties, cities or villages – so just about anywhere).
  • Allows agencies to enter into agreements with one another to provide maintenance for projects constructed to implement a Complete Streets policy.
  • Creates a Complete Streets Advisory Council within MDOT, appointed by the governor, to advise the STC and local agencies in the implementation of Complete Streets.

Amendments to the Michigan Planning Enabling Act

  • Modifies the definition of “streets” to specifically include all legal users.
  • Expands the elements that may be included in a master plan to encompass all transportation systems that move people and goods.
  • Specifies that transportation improvements identified in a plan are appropriate to the context of the community and considers all legal users of the public right of way.
  • The means for implementing transportation elements of the master plan in cooperation with applicable county road commission or MDOT.

The new laws will influence how we work with virtually every township, county, city, and village in the state. In the coming weeks, I will convene an interdisciplinary work group within MDOT to examine how the new law will affect our processes and resources. If you are asked to participate, I ask that you embrace it as an opportunity to improve how we work with our partners to deliver transportation services in Michigan.

The transportation world is changing. We can face this change fearfully, or with confidence. In my five years as director, we have faced many challenges, adapted to change, and are a better organization for doing so. I am confident we can rise to the challenge of implementing the new Complete Streets law — in letter and spirit — and emerge a stronger organization, and ultimately, a better state

Welcome to the RiverWalk, Secretary LaHood

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Both Michigan Senators flank the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood on the Detroit RiverWalkToday did not go as planned. At 11am I read about the Secretary of Transportation being on the Detroit RiverWalk. At 11:50pm I was walking into the ceremony wearing a suit and looking like I’d actually been invited.

Secretary Ray LaHood was in Detroit to tour the new Detroit Terminal Port and highlight the $7 million in stimulus funding that helped make it possible.

Also with the Secretary was Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman John Dingell, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and MDOT Director Kirk Steudle.

Before the tour, I had a chance to speak with both senators. They are both very in tuned with Detroit greenway projects, including the RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut, and Corktown/Mexicantown Greenlink. Senator Levin has helped bring significant funding to the Detroit RiverWalk.

When speaking with Senator Levin, I mentioned the fact that U.S. bicyclists cannot get across to Windsor and their excellent greenways without taking a car over the bridge or through the tunnel. Having this new Detroit port with customs and water taxi service would provide an excellent means for bicyclists crossing between our two countries. He apparently grasped the value in this as I overheard him repeating this to Secretary LaHood. He also highlighted it during his interview with ClickOnDetroit.

Senator Carl Levin said the new terminal will include a customs office, which will help increase traffic between Detroit and Windsor for water taxis, ferry boats and even bicycles.

“They can’t now come across. There’s no way to do it, so there may be a ferry service they are talking about to just literally bring people back and forth with their bicycles,” Levin said.

While I only had a brief moment to speak with Secretary LaHood, it was enough to give an elevator statement on our efforts in building a network of greenways across Detroit.

I also had a chance to talk with Curtis Hertel, the executive director of the Wayne County Port Authority who will be running the terminal. He too is interested in further discussions on how the Port can accommodate bicyclists crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

Still wearing my hat as Detroit Greenways Coordinator for MTGA, I made sure the Senators’ and Secretary’s staff got copies of the Detroit Greenways Network Brochure.

State Representative Marie Donigan and member of the House Transportation Committee was also there. She spoke with LaHood about improving transit in Detroit.

Will the RiverWalk be completed on this stretch next year? Probably not. There will still be a couple temporary connectors. Money to complete those is being sought. Also note that when ships are unloading passengers, the main RiverWalk will close. However, there is an alternate section that will pass around the Terminal building so that pedestrians, cyclists, runners, and skaters can pass.

Link: Photos from the Detroit Terminal Port tour

Link: Secretary LaHood’s “FastLane” blog on his Detroit visit