Posts Tagged ‘Northville’

More talk of Complete Streets around Metro Detroit

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

It’s easy getting caught up in the excitement of Complete Street resolutions, but from what we’ve seen so far, it doesn’t mean much — at least not yet.

What is the likelihood that so many Metro Detroit communities have suddenly discovered their poor road designs and are committed to fixing them? What are the odds that communities which have virtually ignored bicycles as a transportation mode are now ready to embrace them?

There’s just not that much “power” in the standard Complete Streets PowerPoint presentation which has been making its way around local councils and commissions.

And from some examples we’ve seen, communities are jumping on the Complete Streets bandwagon because others are doing it and there’s a promise of more MDOT transportation funding. Who is going to hold them accountable if they don’t follow through with actually building Complete Streets?

That said, the below Complete Street information is a mixed bag. It might result in better conditions for bicycle transportation or it might not. The truth is in the road construction (and maintenance.)

Complete Streets in Birmingham

The city of Birmingham passed a Complete Streets resolution. They have members of their staff and planning commission with significant experience in non-motorized transportation and planning. For example, the planning commission has Scott Clein, an engineer with Giffels-Webster who developed non-motorized plans for Corktown/Mexicantown, New Center, and the entire city of Detroit.

We have a good of level confidence that they’ll be able to make Birmingham more bike friendly in the near future.

Complete Streets in Northville

The city of Northville also passed a Complete Streets resolution but we’re much less confident they’re heading in the best direction by having their staff develop a non-motorized plan. There are only a handful of planning firms in Michigan qualified to produced a quality plan for biking and walking. To think that city staff could pull it off sounds either overly optimistic or they are underestimating the work required. The latter is why most cities hire consultants do develop their recreation plans and master plans.

It’s also been our experience that city staff do not engage the community in the planning process as well as consultants.

And these are some reasons why the city of Royal Oak hired the Active Transportation Alliance (ATA) to create their plan. The ATA has developed over 20 non-motorized plans including Chicago’s. Planners such as ATA and others have the experience. Is Northville going to invest in training their planner(s) on how develop a solid plan?

Plan update in Royal Oak

Speaking of Royal Oak, the Observer and Eccentric recently published this article which gives an update on the plan.

The consultant, Active Transportation Alliance, submitted a rough draft of the plan to the planning department in May, according to Ethan Spotts, marketing and communications director for the Chicago nonprofit company.

Regan looks forward to having the topic as an agenda item for a future Planning Commission meeting. He said roads with bike lanes, like the re-designed Hilton Road, south of I-696 in Ferndale, are sorely needed in Royal Oak. He said encouraging more bike and pedestrian traffic would also free up more parking spaces for vehicles in downtown parking garages, especially with the recent opening of Emagine Theatre and Star Lanes. He said pedestrian friendly designs also means more federal funding for road projects.

We have not seen the plan, but are looking forward to it.

Incomplete Streets in Lathrup Village?

Only a couple pages from a draft Complete Streets plan in Lathrup Village?by Birchler Arroyo appear to be on-line. They show a couple street cross sections, neither of which are Complete Streets. They clearly lack bicycle accommodations.

Their example “principal arterial – village” cross section is a 156 foot (76 feet between the curbs) public right-of-way with speeds of 35 MPH or less yet no bike lanes. The plan also says that these streets are “generally used for vehicular travel; automobile parking, and sometimes bicycling as appropriate.” This sounds like the same streets that exist today.

We brought this up to Birchler Arroyo Associates who is developing this plan. They invited us to see the entire plan, but they never responded when we asked them how. We have not seen this plan on their web site nor Lathrup Village’s.

North Carolina Complete Streets

And while on the topic of Complete Streets, North Carolina’s Department of Transportation has this excellent design guideline framework. They have interesting information on how Complete Streets are designed for various contexts, e.g. suburban, urban, etc.

We’d appreciate seeing something similar produced by Michigan’s Complete Streets Advisory Committee.

It might be helpful in ensuring that Complete Street designs in Michigan are truly Complete Streets.

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

Trust Fund recommends Metro area trail projects

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund announced their recommended projects to be funded for 2010.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) Board of Trustees on Wednesday recommended to Governor Jennifer M. Granholm that 67 recreation projects and land acquisitions totaling $35.7 million be funded in 2010. The board this year had considered 175 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling $108.3 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the Board.

“Our natural resources help set Michigan apart from other states, and the work of the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund has made it possible to protect and acquire some of our most scenic lands and unique natural areas,” Granholm said. “These recommendations will allow all who live in and visit our state to further enjoy Michigan’s magnificent natural and recreational areas.”

We’d recently mentioned this upcoming decision. We also didn’t understand why the Wixom/Walled Lake/Commerce Michigan Airline rail-trail project was not listed. The DNR ruled the project ineligible until it can prove it has the required matching funds. (The Trust Fund does not cover 100% of a project’s cost.) It’s expected that this project will be resubmitted for next year’s grant funding.

Here are the final recommendations for trail-related projects within the Seven-county region. (more…)

Detroit-area Trail projects seek Trust Fund dollars

Sunday, November 29th, 2009
Chairperson Pollack advised that at this time the estimates of funds available for
acquisition is $25.7 million and development $9.7 million.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) board meets on December 2nd to make their funding recommendations for park development and acquisition projects across the state.

According to Chairperson Lana Pollack, there is an estimated $25.7 million available for land acquisition and $9.7 million for development.

Not all projects will get funded as there is over $59 million in land acquisition requests and nearly $26 million in development requests.

To help determine what gets funded, all of the land acquisition and development projects have been ranked.

Here are some trail projects of interest to Metro Detroit bicyclists and other trail users.

Dequindre Cut and RiverWalk connection

09-149. William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor-Detroit East Riverwalk-Parks and Recreation Division. This is to complete the riverwalk trail to link Dequindre Cut. $500,000 request.

This is for phase III development at Milliken State Park. It would continue the RiverWalk eastward from the new lowlands area, past the grassy mound, near the old dry dock, and to the Dequindre Trail.

This project scored very well and is likely to receive funding.

Note that the cities such as Detroit and Hamtramck do not have approved recreation master plans on file with the DNR — a requirement for receiving Trust Fund grants. While the city of Detroit has a recreation plan, it has not been endorsed by city council and therefore does not meet the DNR requirements. Efforts are underway to help get the recreation plan through city council in early 2010.

Michigan Airline Trail

For some unknown reason, this land acquisition request is not included in the final project list. It should be. A presentation on the project was given at the October Trust Fund meeting.

09-170. Michigan Airline Railway Acquisition

Ms. Kathleen Cassidy, Administrator for the Commerce, Walled Lake and Wixom Management Council made a presentation in support of 09-170, Michigan Airline Railway Acquisition. The project is for the acquisition of 5.45 miles of railroad right-of-way for a trail that would traverse Commerce Township and the cities of Walled Lake and Wixom. These communities have formed an intergovernmental trails management council for the purpose of acquisition and development of this trail. There is great support for the project, with over 100 letters of support being received from citizens, politicians, adjacent communities and trail enthusiasts.

When completed, the proposed trail will connect with the Huron Valley and West Bloomfield Trails. The trail is within a mile of eight elementary, two middle and two high schools. In addition it adjoins to the downtown areas of Walled Lake and Wixom.

All three communities have pledged to operate and maintain their portions of the trail through their parks and recreation budgets. There is a willing seller.

The trail is part of the cross-state Michigan Airline Trailway and is one of the nine missing links in this trail.

Ms. Nancy Krupiarz, Executive Director of the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance, made a presentation in support of 09-170, Michigan Airline Railway Acquisition. This is a critical connection for the Michigan Airline Trail. It is located in a heavily populated area. She outlined where the trail would be located via a map.

Mr. Charters asked how much was being requested for this acquisition. Ms. Krupiarz responded the council is asking for $4,222,700 from the MNRTF.

Ms. Krupiarz advised the Board that a grant has recently been received from the Kresge Foundation to close some of the other gaps in the trail (five gaps).

Ms. Krupiarz also mentioned the I-275 Pathway, 40 miles that will connect halfway to the middle of the critical link. These 40 miles of trail go south to Monroe.

Hines Drive trail extension in Northville Township

This is a significant request and larger than the typical $4 million ceiling. That means it could be funded in phases. It does score high on the list and could be funded.

Below are notes from a presentation given to the MNRTF board in October.


More ridiculous rules of the road

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

On another web site, someone commented that the communities in Southeast Oakland County have ridiculous bike rules unlike the west side.

The reason we didn’t list any weird west side rules is because we hadn’t looked there.

So, in order to be balanced, here are some more true or false questions:

  1. You cannot sell ice cream from your bike in West Bloomfield
  2. It’s illegal to drive into Kensington Metropark with your bicycle on a rack.
  3. Plymouth police can impound residents’ unlicensed bicycles and it costs $3 to get them back.
  4. It is illegal to use a child trailer on your bike in Northville.