Posts Tagged ‘St. Clair County’

Feds fail to fund Detroit’s inspired TIGER project

Friday, December 16th, 2011

[Disclaimer: I provided assistance to the city of Detroit on this TIGER grant application.]

It wasn’t a good week in Detroit for transportation news.

First came the light rail decision, and now this. The U.S. DOT did not select Detroit’s TIGER III grant.

There were 828 application and only 46 were selected. The odds weren’t good but Detroit’s $20 million grant request was first-class.

It was called Link Detroit, a Multi-model enhancement plan and a copy of it is available on the city’s web site.

The listed project benefits were:

  • Implements a $25 million infrastructure project that includes bridge replacements, streetscapes, on and off road non-motorized greenways ($20 million DOT grant, $5.8 million local match)
  • Links Detroit’s core investments such as the Riverfront Conservancy and adjacent downtown central businesses through the Dequindre Cut and Midtown Loop greenways to the Eastern Market, Midtown and Hamtramck
  • Intersects major transportation routes including auto, bus, and the planned Woodward Light Rail, enabling multi modal options from anywhere in the region
  • Enhances non-motorized and multi-modal connections to:
    • Jobs (downtown and midtown anchors, locally owned commercial/professional services, start up establishments, hotels and restaurants, eastern market district)
    • Educational institutions (Wayne State)
    • Cultural institutions (DIA, MOCAD, DSO, theatres)
    • Recreational opportunities (Milliken State Park, numerous city parks, marinas)
    • Famers market (Eastern Market)
    • Neighborhoods (Midtown, Hamtramck, East Villages)
  • Leverages significant investments already made in the transportation infrastructure (Campus Martius, Detroit RiverWalk, Woodward Light Rail, Dequindre Cut Greenway, Midtown Loop Greenway, Hamtramck Greenway) and real estate development (Downtown, Midtown, Eastern Market)
  • Provides 289 direct near term jobs, and up to 16,000 long term jobs, assuming the residential and commercial fill in development typically stimulated by this kind of investment

Can Detroit just reapply for TIGER IV? That’s uncertain.

Congress has asked that TIGER “focus on road, transit, rail and port projects.” One source says it’s not a ban on bike-ped oriented projects, but that future focus doesn’t help Link Detroit.

In addition, some of the matching funds will likely be spent before the next TIGER round, and therefore will become ineligible.

Detroit had received $25 million in the first round of TIGER grants. That money was to be spent on the Woodward light rail and will now be applied towards planning bus rapid transit. We don’t know what role this previous award and the city’s current financial situation had in this grant request cycle.

No Dequindre Cut Extension?

This does not stop the planned Dequindre Cut extension. The city has a purchase agreement for the private property from Gratiot to Mack and is now doing due diligence. The funding is there to keep moving this project forward.

Eventually the Midtown and Hamtramck connections will be built once the needed funding is found. TIGER III would have put these critical projects on the front burner.

Other Michigan TIGER grants

The only successful TIGER III grant was for $3.6 million to rebuild 2.6 miles of road in St. Clair County which “provides essential access to the County’s only landfill facility.” Yeah, that stinks.

That said, we’re not surprised the MDOT/Canton TIGER request was rejected. This was a $22 million project to improve the IKEA exit on I-275.

The required grant section on Livability appears to have been written in the 1980s or earlier. One claimed project benefit is it will improve the quality of life by having “a safer operational and connected network to and from the surrounding community and the freeway network.” That and they won’t remove the existing bike path.

The grant’s section on Alternative Transportation and Sustainable Development says, Canton is “committed to promoting sustainable development opportunities and alternative transportation options for residents.” Canton opted out of SMART. You cannot take the SMART bus to the IKEA store.

If anything, this is an example of why transportation in Michigan is not a sustainable model. We let a major traffic generator locate in an area which lacks the existing transportation infrastructure to handle it. And now Canton (and MDOT) want taxpayers to fix their $22 million mistake.

IKEA even mentioned in their support letter for this grant that “when IKEA was considering potential locations for our Michigan store, we had strong concerns about the interchange.”

But to be fair, there are other costly expressway exit examples, from the Chrysler headquarters to the Great Lakes Crossing at Baldwin. We have a history of funding mistakes.

The bottom line is Michigan can’t afford to keep ignoring the obvious relationship between land use and transportation.



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!


How do you define “safe”?

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

The following was posted during a discussion on living car-free in Detroit on (emphasis ours):

Ahh, the myth that the metro area is all Detroit. I live in a very nice suburb that is quiet and safe. The only reason I feel the need to leave here is just so I can depend less upon a motorized vehicle and more upon my own power. The car culture here is strong and the roads are just not safe for riding everywhere I would like to be able to go.

So which is it? The suburb is safe but the roads are not safe?

From a cyclist perspective, if the roads aren’t safe, your community isn’t safe. Cycling advocates shouldn’t let local governments view safety only from behind a windshield.

But surely suburbs do have lower reported crime rates compared with Detroit. Then again, having a motor vehicle on their horn and passing unsafely is?assault with a deadly weapon, though it’s rarely reported.

It does seem Detroit’s streets are safer for cycling — a conclusion supported by the average yearly bicycle crashes per 100K residents from 2004 through 2009.

Detroit 16.5
St. Clair County 18.9
Oakland County 19.4
Wayne County (without Detroit) 25.0
Macomb County 26.1

Also, Detroit has the lowest bicycle crash rate despite having a highest bike to work rate.

And as for living car-free, it would be tough to beat Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood.

Seasonal bike racks

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

We recently visited the St. Clair County offices in Port Huron, Michigan. We couldn’t help but notice the less-than-useful position of their bike rack.

We spoke with County Parks and they said it was likely moved in order to accommodate snow removal.

Moving it out of the way may make sense, but it makes more sense to locate where it can used year round. Normal people do ride bikes in the winter. Canada’s Yukon Territory has a higher bike to work rate than California and Florida.

The Yukon Territory’s winter weather surely isn’t any better than ours.

Oakland County Roads are Not the Safest

Monday, May 11th, 2009

irtadIf you read the Road Commission for Oakland County web site you’d see their claim that the county has “the safest roads in the world.”

They’re wrong.

To jump to this conclusion, they divided the number of fatalities by 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The more miles driven on the expressways, the safer the rest of the roads look.

And in 2008, 27% of all Oakland County road fatalities were pedestrians and cyclists. To divide those fatalities by the number of vehicle miles traveled is clearly invalid — and it reflects the low priority the Road Commission places on road users who are not inside a motor vehicle.

What the Road Commission should be reporting is the fatality rate based on the population size.

Here are the 2008 fatality rates per 100,000 people (based on 2008 SEMCOG population estimates):

  • Oakland County 13
  • Macomb County 13
  • St. Clair County 18
  • Wayne County 20

These are not world class when compared with other countries.

The U.K.’s Department for Transport’s recent report “A Safer Way: Consultation on Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World.” (via How We Drive) compiles road fatality rates for many countries (See the above chart).

Our county rates show we are among the least safe. Oakland and Macomb counties are only marginally better than the U.S. average, yet double the Canadian average.

We’re apparently neck and neck with Bulgaria.

Oakland County clearly does not have the safest roads.