Posts Tagged ‘Oakland County’

Combining County boards and road commissions

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Governor Rick Snyder said back in October that he’d like to reduce the size of government by allowing counties to manage roads. He called road commissions “unneeded.”

We agree. As we’ve mentioned before, by default counties cannot manage roads. That must be handled by a separate county government called a road commission. It’s archaic and not cost effective.

House Bills 5125 and 5126 will make it possible to consolidate these separate county governments. While both the House and Senate have passed variations of the bill, the House must approve of the Senate’s legislative changes.

According to a Detroit News article:

The Michigan House has approved measures that would allow county boards of commissioners to take over the powers and duties of county road commissions.

Appointed county road commissions could be dissolved by a majority vote of a county’s board of commissioners. Voters would have the final decision on whether to dissolve road commissions in counties where road commissioners are elected.

Ingham County is looking to absorb their road commission. Macomb and Wayne Counties went through the onerous county charter process which let them absorb their road commissions earlier.

What about Oakland County?

The Spinal Column has thorough coverage on this topic.

“(Oakland County Executive L.) Brooks (Patterson) has no desire to take us over, and if anyone studies the issue, they wouldn’t want to,” [RCOC Spokesperson Craig] Bryson said. We don’t think there would be an immediate response, but there could be in the future.”

One conclusion from reading the article is that some government officials are against it and willing to make rather outlandish claims as to why.

Bryson claims it “By moving the jurisdiction to the counties, it forces counties to raise property taxes to fund roads.” Not true. Roads are paid for through a separate funding stream. If this were the case, why would tax-averse Macomb County absorb their road commission?

County Commissioner Jim Runestad said,”In Oakland County, if (the county board) were to take over the RCOC, it would be highly politicized and the politics would weigh in on every decision.” Every decision? Is that what happens now at the local, state, and federal levels, all of which manage roads without a separate governmental body? Of course not.

The current system of electing Oakland County road commissioners is highly political. The Republican majority chooses a road commissioner every couple years and controls the process. It’s a separate county government that’s fully controlled by the Republican majority, and that is the likely reason why the Road Commission for Oakland County will continue in the near future.

Commissioner Runestead told the Spinal Column, “If there was a change in leadership on the county board, the RCOC’s days could be numbered.”

MDOT grants announced for trails and streetscaping

Saturday, January 14th, 2012

MDOT has announced the latest round of Transportation Enhancement funding.

Here are the grantees from the three Metro Detroit counties.

Macomb County

The city of New Baltimore will make streetscape improvements to its historic downtown on Washington Street from Green Street to Front Street. The project will include streetlights, trees, planters, bike racks, street furniture, and staining the existing sidewalk. The project budget is $486,110, including $340,277 in federal TE funds and $145,833 from the city.

Oakland County

The Road Commission for Oakland County, in partnership with West Bloomfield Township, will construct a multi-use trail along an abandoned rail line from Arrowhead Road to Haggerty Road. The trail will be an extension of the West Bloomfield Trail, which connects to the Clinton River Trail. The project includes trail surfacing, roadway crossings, benches, trash receptacles, and trail shoulder restoration with native plant materials. The project budget is $1,111,692, including $611,431 in federal TE funds and $500,261 from West Bloomfield Township Parks and Recreation.

Wayne County

MDOT, in partnership with the city of Detroit and the Greening of Detroit, will install streetscape amenities along US-12 (Michigan Avenue) between 14th Street and Rosa Parks Boulevard. The work includes replacing the concrete sidewalks and adding brick pavers, tree planters, bike loops and trash receptacles. When the project is complete, the Greening of Detroit will place trees in the planters. The project budget is $407,351, including $325,881 in federal TE funds, $71,286 from MDOT and $10,184 from the city.

Both streetscape projects include bike racks.

What’s not on the list is the grant request for Trumbull in Detroit. As we’d last heard, this was a request to reconstruct Trumbull from Warren to W. Grand Boulevard, including adding bike lanes.

Another project that is expected to get funded soon is the next portion of the Conner Creek Greenway from the Mt. Olivet Cemetery to Eight Mile. It includes a combination of bikes lanes on E. Outer Drive/Conner, sidewalks, and bike routes.

As you may recall, Transportation Enhancements has been threatened to be cut in Washington DC. Now is as good a time as ever to contract your Congress member and remind them of the value in these transportation dollars.

Grassroots Southeast Oakland County bike route mapping

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

From Tom Regan of Royal Oak:

If you cycle frequently you have probably mapped out some safe and quick ways to get from here to there (say, from Royal Oak to Berkely, or from Clawson to Ferndale). Now it is time to share your knowledge.

We are collecting safe biking routes into one large regional biking map. With help from the Oakland County mapping department we will collate the data and publish this map sometime in the spring of 2012.

Residents of Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, and Royal Oak are invited and encouraged to attend. If you live in another city and would like to join please call or email me directly and we will add you in.

Join us:

Come by any time between 7pm and 8:30pm to share your map ideas.This event is a joint project of the Royal Oak Environmental Advisory Board and environmental advisory boards in Berkley, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, and Pleasant Ridge. Thank you also to the Oakland County mapping department for their kind offer to collate our mapping data.Please spread the word any way you can.
Tom Regan
3126 Glenview
Royal Oak, MI 48073
home: 248-435-0147
cell: 248-797-1075

More coverage of Complete Streets in Oakland County

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

As mentioned earlier, Oakland County Commissioners passed a Complete Streets resolution. However, the original resolution was modified before it was unanimously approved.

Here is the final version as best as we can determine with the changes highlighted:

WHEREAS Complete Street are defined as a design framework that enables safe and convenient access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, and drivers of all ages and abilities; and

WHEREAS Complete Streets are achieved when transportation agencies routinely plan, design, construct, reconstruct, operate, and maintain the transportation network to improve travel conditions for bicyclists, pedestrians, transit, motorists and freight in a manner consistent with, and supportive of, the surrounding community; and

WHEREAS development of pedestrian, bicycle, and transit infrastructure offers long-term cost savings and opportunities to create safe and convenient non-motorized travel; and

WHEREAS streets that support and invite multiple uses for pedestrians, bicycles, and transit are more conducive to the public life and efficient movement of people than streets designed primarily to move automobiles; and

WHEREAS increasing active transportation (e.g. walking, bicycling and using public transportation) offers the potential for improved public health, economic development, a cleaner environment, reduced transportation costs, enhanced community connections, social equity, and a more livable communities; and

WHEREAS Complete Streets principles have been and continue to be adopted nationwide at state, county, MPO, and city levels in the interest of proactive planning and adherence to federal regulations that guide transportation planning organizations to promote multi-modal transportation options and accessibility for all users; and

WHEREAS the Michigan Legislature enacted legislation that required the State Transportation Commission to:

A. Adopt a complete streets policy for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

B. Develop a model complete streets policy or policies to be made available for use by local road agencies; and

WHEREAS this legislation established the Complete Streets Advisory Council to assist with the development of the model policy or policies and to advise the Transportation Commission and local road agencies on such policies; and

WHEREAS it is imperative that any policies and practices adopted by the Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC) be consistent with the model complete streets policies for local agencies being developed by the State Transportation Commission; and

WHEREAS RCOC has established its own Complete Streets Review Committee to examine the complete streets concept; and

WHEREAS this committee includes a cross section of RCOC staff and other interested parties including the City of Novi director of Public Services, the Oakland Township parks and trails planner, a representative of the Michigan Trailways and Greenways Alliance, the MDOT Metro Region planner and SEMCOG’s non-motorized transportation planner; and

WHEREAS RCOC’s committee will finalize its complete streets recommendations after it has reviewed the model policies developed by the State Transportation Commission.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby declares its support for Complete Streets concept. and requests the Road Commission of Oakland County (RCOC) adopt a Complete Streets into its strategic planning process.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby requests the Road Commission of Oakland County to develop a Non-motorized Transportation Plan that will include, at a minimum, accommodations for accessibility, sidewalks, curb ramps and cuts, trails and pathways, signage, bike lanes, and shall incorporate principles of Complete Streets and maximize walkable and bikeable streets within Oakland County.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners hereby requests the Road Commission for Oakland County plan for, design, and construct all transportation improvement projects, both new and retrofit activities, to provide appropriate accommodations for bicyclists, pedestrian, transit users, and persons of all ages and abilities in accordance with an Oakland County Non-motorized Transportation Plan.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests that two additional members are appointed to the Complete Streets Review Committee, and meet the following requirements:

1) Two (2) members of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners appointed by the Chairperson of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests that the RCOC’s report to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners within six months of adoption of this resolution progress of the committee.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners requests the that, once the State Transportation Commission has developed its complete streets model policy for local road agencies, and the policy has been reviewed by the RCOC Complete Streets Review Committee, RCOC will report to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners on how the Road Commission will progress in implementing an Oakland County Non-motorized plan and adoption of Complete Streets principles in overall strategic planning within six months after adoption of this resolution a complete streets policy that is consistent with the State Transportation Commission’s model policy and Complete Streets principles.

Here is some additional media coverage:

Woodward Avenue Complete Streets Grant

C and G News also ran a story on the Complete Streets grant for Woodward.

“(Complete Streets) is sort of a concept that communities across the country are adopting that says our streets should be more than for just cars,” said Heather Carmona, executive director of the WA3, which is based in Royal Oak.

This means that bicycling groups, non-motorized transit advocates, Woodward Light Rail supporters and all other stakeholders in the roadways will come together to make sure that every mode of transportation can share Woodward fairly and that all future road designs incorporate the Complete Streets concept.

To create a cohesive strategy, there would be standards, policies and land use changes that are shared by all jurisdictions. “The ultimate outcome will be some kind of overlying Complete Streets master plan for Woodward that will look at a lot of different components,” Carmona said.

John Scott elected SEMCOG Chair

In related news, Oakland County Commissioner John Scott (R-Waterford) was elected Chair of SEMCOG.

Scott initially opposed the County Complete Streets resolution by saying, “Does this mean bike paths or wheelchair lanes down Woodward (Avenue)? I’m not sure what I’m voting on here.”

Seriously? He thought Complete Streets meant wheelchair lanes on Woodward? Has he been traveling the U.S. and seeing wheelchair lanes in other Complete Street’s communities?

Now he’s chair of SEMCOG — our metropolitan planning authority that oversees much of this area’s transportation spending.

And in showing his true support for regional harmony, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson added, “He will defend Oakland County’s interests vigorously.”

It’s clear that a Complete Streets resolution is a start, but we need some more significant changes in our county government.

Woodward Corridor lands huge Complete Streets grant

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Here’s some exciting news about Woodward that has nothing to do with the Dream Cruise.

Senator Carl Levin’s office and the Federal Highway Administration just announced a $752,880 grant for “developing a Complete Streets plan for Michigan’s 27-mile Woodward Avenue corridor that connects 11 communities and two Southeast Michigan Counties.”

“Transportation investments like these will create jobs and improve the quality of life for Michigan residents as well as strengthen the state’s economy,” said Secretary [U.S. DOT Secretary Ray] LaHood. “The demand from the states for these funds shows just how critical the need is for infrastructure investment.”

The funding is being awarded to the Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) who will be releasing more details soon.

WA3 has been a big supporter of Complete Streets and they are members of the Detroit Complete Streets Workgroup.

It will be interesting to see how this new planning effort fits with some prior Woodward bike/walk plans, the forthcoming Royal Oak non-motorized plan, and the Woodward Light Rail project.

But as for the Dream Cruise, there is a Complete Streets connection. The best way to move within the Woodward Corridor during the Cruise is on foot or by bike. Making Woodwared a Complete Street could give better, safer, and faster transportation options during the event.

Complete Streets Resolution passes

And in related news, Oakland County Commissioners passed a Complete Streets resolution for the county.

Special thanks to everyone who contacted their commissioner. It worked.