Posts Tagged ‘Rick Snyder’

Governor Rick Snyder: Bikes the talk in Detroit

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

At yesterday’s groundbreaking, George Jackson of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation spoke of his appreciation for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. “He walks the talk.” Jackson said.

This day would be different.

As the governor noted later, today he would bike the talk — on the Dequindre Cut from Milliken State Park to Eastern Market — on a bike rented from the Wheelhouse Detroit.

I had the opportunity to give a Detroit Greenways button to the Governor, which he prompted pin to his jacket. We also discussed the Dequindre Cut and biking in Detroit. He asked if there were other places to ride in the city and if there was a bike map. I noted that we’re working on some maps now and that Detroit is among the nation’s most bike friendly due to the overbuilt road network.

I also spoke with him about the New International Trade Crossing. I asked if he would work with us to make sure the constructed bridge includes the paved shoulders (for bicyclists) and sidewalk that are in the approved current design — and encourage the Canadians to do the same. He sounded quite positive and asked me to contact his office with the details.

Milliken Park expansion

Governor Snyder was in Detroit for the groundbreaking of the Globe Trading Building. This historic structure will become the DNR’s Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center.

“The Outdoor Adventure and Discovery Center project is an exciting next step in fulfilling a vision for Detroit’s Riverfront and serves as a shining example of what city and state, public and private partnerships and collaboration can achieve,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “This is what place making is all about. And the project will help generate additional economic development and neighborhood revitalization that are core to Detroit’s and Michigan’s comeback.”

“The goal of everyone involved in this venture is to create a downtown destination where people living in or visiting an urban area can experience the adventure and excitement of Michigan’s great outdoors, gain confidence in participating in outdoor recreation activities, and understand more about protecting our state’s unique natural resources,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We feel the Globe Building project provides the right hub for outdoor experiences and fits that niche perfectly.”

This is going to be a tremendous asset at the intersection of two great greenways: the Dequindre Cut and Detroit RiverWalk.

During the 2011 RiverDays event, someone asked me when the city was going to tear down that old brick building. I promptly responded and told him about the DNR’s plans to revitalize it. They didn’t believe me. I recalled that transaction as the Governor spoke yesterday.

From the Detroit News:

“I want everyone to remember what that looks like today,” said Snyder during a press conference at Milliken State Park, gesturing across the street to the abandoned warehouse. “So when we come back and see what it looks like, we can see what the power of working together can do and the opportunity to reinvent Michigan and the opportunity to reinvent Detroit.”

The Free Press also published this article on the event and building.

Bicycling between Detroit and Windsor by bridge & ferry

Monday, October 1st, 2012

The push continues for a means of getting bicyclists between Detroit and Windsor. The two preferred routes are a planned ferry service and the new bridge.

On September 14th, cycling advocates from Windsor and Detroit helped kick off a Share the Bridge campaign. Their focus is to ensure bike access on the New International Trading Crossing (NITC) being promoted by Canada, the state of Michigan, and others. According to Member of Parliament Brian Masse:

“People want the new crossing to be an asset for the community as well as for the North American economy. By investing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure on the new crossing we will create a signature feature that can have economic, environmental and cultural benefits for the region.”

A press conference was held along the Windsor side of the Detroit River. Masse led the event where he stressed the need for cycling advocates to make this happen. An excellent video from the event has been uploaded with this quote from Masse:

“We get one chance at this border crossing to do it right, and we don’t want to be like the other communities out there that are having to fight to go back and rework things.”

State Representative Rashida Tlaib of Detroit was also there with many other political and cycling supporters.

This event was covered by the Windsor Star, CBC, and OurWindsor.

The campaign asks not only for bicycling access on the bridge, but proper connections to the greenways planned on both sides of the border. Those connections are planned on the U.S. side but not on the Canadian side.

U.S. bridge plans

We’d written about this last December and even showed a bridge cross section design. It appears we were looking an alternative design. The final design has two 10-foot shoulders for bicyclists and a separated 5-foot sidewalk for pedestrians — or less confident bicyclists.

This design is what was in the Bridge Type Study Report and Conceptual Engineering Report. Both documents are referenced in the final Record of Decision and recently submitted Presidential Permit application.

We’ve asked for MDOT’s commitment to these plans, but they are unable to directly address them. Governor’s Rick Synder’s office is handling the project communications.

The Canadians are still unsure of Transport Canada’s commitment.

Will these U.S. plans coerce the Canadians into supporting bicyclists? No one seems to know.

Detroit River ferry service

Masse also visited the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority in August. His mission was to ensure that Canadian Customs could use this facility for the ferry service. Under this scenario, both customs would be on the U.S. side as is done elsewhere on the border.

The Windsor Star created a couple videos of the event.

The second video is of Steven Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority.

Updates: Detroit RiverWalk, Belle Isle and more

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

Much of this is older news and others, like Mode Shift have done a fine job covering last month’s RiverWalk announcements. We’ll just in some gaps and clear up some misconceptions.

In case you missed it, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Governor Rick Snyder and others broke ground more sections of the RiverWalk. More specifically, the Mt. Elliott Park makeover is underway. Not much has begun yet except for some construction fencing, but that will change soon.

As we mentioned, Mode Shift wrote a very good article on this event, as did the Free Press, Detroit News, and Click on Detroit (with video.)

The Governor has shown great interest as well and made this statement.

It’s a win for all Michiganders. The riverfront in Detroit coming back is a great thing for the citizens of Detroit and for all Michiganders. I encourage anyone in our state to come down and enjoy the experience. I’m looking forward to going for a bike ride myself one of these days.

Saddle up, Governor. Summer’s coming to an end.

The Governor continued his comments by stressing the importance of placemaking, which he views as a combination of “economic development, environmentalism, and community all coming together.” Former DNR Director Rodney Stokes has been transferred to the Governor’s office to work on placemaking, including Milliken State Park, the Globe Trading Building, and Belle Isle. This is a very positive move as Stokes is a former Detroit Recreation Department director and has put a priority on engaging urban youth in the outdoors.

Snyder also applauds the Detroit RiverWalk’s public-private partnership model, which he is also pushing for the new Detroit River bridge.

The Uniroyal site just east of Mt. Elliott Park continues to be cleaned. With some luck this work will be completed so that the RiverWalk connection to the Belle Isle bridge can be started next year.

That $44 million that was announced at the groundbreaking is funding we’ve already mentioned in earlier stories. Only now is the Conservancy able to spend it.

Some media stories have said this is the “final phase” or that these project will complete the RiverWalk. No, they won’t. They’ll complete the eastern portion of the RiverWalk. The western portion from Joe Louis Arena to Riverside Park, just beyond the Ambassador Bridge still needs to be completed.

Belle Isle

The state’s interest in helping Detroit with Belle Isle has gotten much press and attention. There’s both strong support, opposition and misinformation.

Here’s some questions and answers:

Q. The Belle Isle assistance is in city’s consent agreement. Does that mean it’s a done deal?

A. No. According to city councilmember we spoke with, it’s only an affiliated project. It’s not part of the agreement.

Q. If Belle Isle were part of Milliken State Park, would there be an admission fee?

A. No, but motor vehicles on the island would probably have to have a Recreation Passport. The Passport costs $10 a year and is valid in all state parks and state forests. It’s a bargain and costs less than a few gallons of gas.

Q. Does this bring Detroiter’s state tax dollars back to the city?

A. No. Since 2004, state parks have not received state taxpayer funding. Councilman Gary Brown, Deadline Detroit, and others have been mentioning this as a benefit, but they’re not correct.

There have been many concerns voiced about the state having a long term lease on the Belle Isle. We’re not concerned. Leases can be written to say what the state can and cannot do. It doesn’t mean the state will be building condos. These leases are common.

In fact there’s a similar lease just down the river. That land under Milliken State Park? It’s city land that’s on a long term lease to the state.

How’s that working out?

Biking the bridge(s) between Detroit and Windsor

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

The proposed New Internationals Trade Crossing (NITC) bridge moved closer to reality this past week.

From Crain’s Detroit Business:

At a press conference at the Hilton in downtown Windsor, Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a joint effort to build the $2.1 billion New International Trade Crossing between Detroit and Windsor.

The project could start in 2013 or 2014, and work is expected to take at least four years.

This was a big deal. Even U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was present. He talked about it on his blog.

As everyone who has worked so hard to make this project happen knows, the new crossing will be much more than a road across the Detroit River. With jobs and economic growth, both of our countries will prosper from the new connection.

Neither LaHood nor Snyder made a comment about biking across the new bridge, but that is in the design plans as we noted back in December.

Bike the Ambassador Bridge

The annual Bike the Bridge event was also this past weekend. The Windsor Star covered the event and included these comments from Windsor City Councilor Halberstadt:

Ward 3 Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who sits on the Windsor Bicycling Committee, said part of the purpose of the annual event is to raise awareness that a bike connection is needed across the border. He said they will be pushing to have a bike route added to the existing Ambassador Bridge or included in plans for the new bridge.

“It just makes sense. Cycling is becoming more and more popular for health and economic reasons and it’s a great tourism attraction to have Americans come over here,” said Halberstadt.

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.