Whether your tax dollars are piddled away on yet another road construction project depends, in large part, on the Detroit City Council — and you. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) proposes that Detroit, the state and feds together blow about $1.3 billion on a seven-mile stretch of I-94 between Conner and I-96, which would more than double the number of lanes. The cost to Detroit could be as high as $37.5 million, according to Transportation Rider’s United (TRU), a grassroots group that supports public transportation and opposes the project.
TRU President Karen Kendrick-Hands says that if the council approves the plan, local taxes will likely increase or badly needed repairs to existing streets will be deferred.
Kendrick-Hands says the money would be better spent on public transportation. According to a 1997 MDOT study, it would cost $130 million to build commuter rail lines from Detroit to Mt. Clemens, Pontiac and Ann Arbor, complete with trains, track and stations. It’s a cost-effective way to help ease gridlock; that’s a critical consideration in metro Detroit, the nation’s third-most congested area according to a study released earlier this month by the Michigan Land Use Institute and the Surface Transportation Policy Project. (That study considers such factors as the availability of public transportation, unlike a widely reported Texas Transportation Institute study, which ranked Detroit differently.)
A public hearing on the I-94 expansion is scheduled for tomorrow (May 17) at 6 p.m. before the Detroit Planning Commission, an advisory body to the Detroit City Council. Folks like you can voice your concerns about the project. Or you can take News Hits’ advice and tell the commission that Detroit dollars should be spent on public transportation not road expansion. The hearing will be held at the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on the 13th floor.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]