Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Airline’

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  http://t.co/hVNYoFs

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.

Third time a charm for Wixom-area Rail-Trail?

Monday, April 4th, 2011

As reported in the Spinal Column, Wixom, Walled Lake, and Commerce and looking to apply for Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund monies for a third time.

The Michigan Airline Railway property spans from West Bloomfield Township to the western city limits of Wixom and is considered the missing link in a trail that traverses the county and connects to a cross-state corridor spanning the Lower Peninsula.

The target 5.33 miles of Michigan Airline Railway corridor crossing the trailway council communities would be converted into a non-motorized recreational trail to link the Huron Valley and West Bloomfield trail segments.

“Our resolution emphasis is on the acquisition of the property at and surrounding the Walled Lake depot and including the depot,” [Wixom city manager Mike] Dornan said.

This grant request was denied in 2009 when there was no commitment for the required matching funds from MDOT.

Last year it was rejected due to protests of a local business still using the line. According to the Trust Fund minutes, “Chairperson Muchmore responded he feels this proposed trail project has some loose ends that need to be resolved.”

The Spinal Column reports that the local business issue has been resolved and that this section of railroad is being formally abandoned this summer.

…the railroad owner has filed a petition for exemption which would lead to the abandonment of the railway, which has led the trailway council to try again.

“The three communities now feel we are on better ground now that the railroad will be abandoned,” [trailway council administrator Kathleen] Jackson said.

We sure hope so. This is a critical link locally, regionally, and statewide. It is part of the Great Lake to Lake Trail (formerly known as the Michigan Airline Trail.)

Also, the Spinal Column supported this rail-trail in this editorial.

LinkMichigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Nov. 2010 minutes (PDF)

Major Detroit trail and park grants get the nod

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

The Dequindre Trail abuts the historic Globe Building

Yesterday was likely the biggest day in Michigan history for greenspace grant decisions largely due to a recent windfall in gas and oil leases on state land.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees today recommended to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm that 117 recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $102,098,400 be funded in 2011. The board this year had considered 165 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling $140.4 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the MNRTF board.

“Michigan’s remarkable natural resources help to make our state more appealing to residents and visitors alike,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “The important work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund makes it possible to acquire and safeguard some of our most beautiful natural and recreational areas for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”

Of course these grant decisions are not final and are subject to a review by the Governor before the Michigan legislature actually appropriates the money sometime next year.

So, how’d this area do?

City of Detroit

Clearly the biggest winner was the Detroit RiverWalk, Milliken State Park, and Dequindre Cut. These three projects were recommended for a whopping $34.4 million for land acquisition.

Here’s how that funding breaks down. Note the the DNRE was the applicant for the first three, while Detroit applied for the Dequindre Cut expansion.

  • William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor (Wayne County) – $20 million. This funding will be used to acquire three to six large private inholding parcels and trail easements along the Detroit Riverfront as additions to the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor in downtown Detroit.
  • Globe Building Adventure and Discovery Center Acquisition (Wayne County) – $9 million. This funding would be used by the DNRE to acquire 48,000 square feet of built-out space in the Globe Building for the William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor Adventure and Discovery Center in downtown Detroit.
  • Detroit Riverfront Easements and Acquisitions (Wayne County) – $5 million. These funds would be used by the DNRE to acquire public use easements and land acquisitions along the Detroit River from the Ambassador Bridge to the MacArthur Bridge as part of a 5-mile-long public greenway.
  • Dequindre Cut Expansion, City of Detroit (Wayne County) – $375,000. These funds would be used to acquire a 0.7-mile section of abandoned rail corridor in downtown Detroit that continues the Dequindre Cut north, connecting the Detroit Riverfront to the historic Eastern Market.

A million dollars in Detroit Recreational Department projects were also recommended, both of which include trails. These grants  along with the Dequindre Cut grant would not have been possible without the city’s recreation plan being approved earlier this year — a basic requirement for this funding source.

  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Balduck Park In-Town Youth Camp and Family Picnic Area. This will include restrooms, picnic shelter, play area, nature trail, walking path, camp activity areas, pathways and interpretive signs.
  • City of Detroit (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $500,000 for improvements to Patton Park, including construction of two softball diamonds, lighting, comfort station, picnic shelter, parking lot improvements, connecting pathways, and an asphalt trail linking the Greenway to the sidewalks.

Wayne County

Four other projects in Wayne County were recommended:

  • Northville Township (Wayne County) – $3,053,700. These funds would be used for Phase II acquisition of 51.01 acres to create a linear park connecting the former Northville State Hospital property with the Wayne County Hines Parkway system and also preserve 200-year-old growth forest and link to the Southeast Michigan Greenways Network.
  • Wayne County is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop the Refuge Gateway Boat Dock/Fishing Pier for the Great Lakes Schoolship and associated recreational features.
  • City of Flat Rock (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $447,900 for the Flat Rock-Oakwood Metro Park Connector. This project will develop 1.93 miles of trail linking the Flat Rock Greenway to the Oakwood Metro Park Greenway to create a contiguous 23-mile greenway system in southeast Michigan.
  • City of Inkster (Wayne County) is recommended to receive $408,000 to develop a 4.5-mile Inkster Park Greenway Trail through the city along Wayne County parkland adjacent to the Lower Rouge River.

Oakland County

Five projects in Oakland County were recommended, but perhaps the biggest news was the one that wasn’t, the Wixom, Commerce, Walled Lake rail-trail, part of the Michigan Air Line. It was rejected last year due to a lack of matching funds. This year the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) spoke against it since the original plan would have negatLively impacted a local rail customer. That plan had been updated to remove that impact but MEDC was apparently unaware of it and no one was at the meeting to address the update. This is very unfortunate given the large amount of funding available this year.

  • West Bloomfield Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $500,000 to develop a 2.5-mile, 10-foot wide aggregate path; road crossings; benches; interpretive signs; native seeding along the West Bloomfield Trail, which is part of the Michigan Airline Trail system.
  • City of Novi (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $437,500 to develop a trailhead for Landings Park for the existing and future non-motorized regional pathway system within the 11-acre Landings parkland, with an accessible waterfront park with 835 feet of naturalized shoreline.
  • Oakland County is recommended to receive $308,000 to develop universally accessible amenities at Highland Oaks, Lyon Oaks, Red Oaks and Rose Oaks parks.
  • Oakland Township (Oakland County) is recommended to receive $154,900 for the improvements at the Lost Lake Nature Park, including renovation of existing residence for nature center use, a fishing dock, non-motorized boating, nature observation/education, accessibility improvements to parking lot, pedestrian routes, interpretative signage and storm water buffers.
  • Village of Leonard (Oakland County) – $22,500. This funding would be used to acquire 0.28 acres of property adjacent to the Polly Ann Trail.

Macomb County

Only one project was recommended in Macomb County. The county had submitted a grant request for the Lake St. Clair Shoreline Trail between Selfridge AFB and the lake. That was rejected since the land was already in public ownership. The case was being made that although it was in public ownership, it hadn’t been open to the public. Apparently that argument didn’t win out.

  • Macomb County is recommended to receive $205,000 to develop the Nicholson Nature Center, including a restroom facility, classrooms, boardwalk, trails, stream crossings, wetlands enhancement and signage.

Link: Complete list of all funding recommendations

I-275 Metro Trail Open House

Friday, March 19th, 2010

MDOT is hosting a public open house to discuss the I-275 Metro Trail from Hines Drive to Michigan Avenue.

March 30, 2010 from 6 – 8 p.m

Plymouth Township Hall, Town Hall Room, 9955 N. Haggerty Road, Plymouth, MI 48170

MDOT and project team staff will host an open house to provide an overview of the project scope and boundaries of this approximately 7-mile section of the I-275 Metro Trail. This section is planned for reconstruction beginning this spring. There will be an opportunity to provide written feedback and input on various elements of the project including trail signs and bridge aesthetics.

For more information, please contact:

  • Gorette Yung at 313-375-2400, yungg@michigan.gov
  • Leah Groya at 313-961-3650, lgroya@wadetrim.com
  • Jayson Nault at 810-220-2112, jayson.nault@tetratech.com

A third and final public open house regarding this section of the trail will be scheduled for April.

Also, Associated Online published an article on the I-275 Metro Trail reconstruction.

The work includes a complete reconstruction of the path between Michigan Avenue and Hines Drive, [John Bailey] said.

“The path will be upgraded to present-day standards, including widening it to 14 feet, constructing proper drainage and slopes, and bringing it in line with ADA compliance,” he said.

Repairs will also be made to the section from Hines Drive north to Meadowbrook Road, which Bailey said isn?t as badly deteriorated as the southern section.

The work includes four new bridges, too: over Fellows Creek, Tonquish Creek, Wiles Drain and Smith Drain.

There’s also positive news on the north end of the I-275 Metro Trail. The Commerce, Walled Lake, and Wixom Trailway Management Council is applying for trail grant funding after a public hearing. The public comment was nearly unanimously in favor of converting this rail line to a non-motorized trail. The lone opposition came from a local business that receives material deliveries from the rail line. Receiving those deliveries by truck would increase their manufacturing costs.

The council hopes to purchase the 5.33 mile railroad and turn it into a paved, non-motorized pathway that will connect to the Huron Valley Trail and the West Bloomfield Trail.

This grant would match an MDOT grant and allow for land acquisition. Later grants would be sought to improve the trail surface, signage, etc.

National Bike Summit: a Detroit perspective

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The 10th National Bike Summit in Washington DC was last week. This three day event was a great opportunity to learn the latest on bike advocacy issues, lobby Congress, and network with peers.

I was attending this wearing a two main MTGA hats: Detroit Greenways Coordinator and Michigan Airline Trail Ambassador.

My highlight was Thursday morning. We had a group breakfast for last minute legislative updates and some cheerleading prior to our Congressional office visits. I was waiting behind this older gentleman for coffee. Being a bit impatient, I asked if I could cut in front. He poured my coffee and I said “Thanks”. It was then that I realized Congressman James Oberstar — one of the key bike supporters in DC and chair of the House Transportation committee — had just poured my coffee.

It was going to be a great day!

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