Streets completing

Jun 9, 2010 at 8:01 am

After party caucuses cut short the May 27 Michigan House Transportation Committee meeting and prevented some people from testifying about the Complete Streets bills, leaders are bringing them back in a second committee hearing this week, scheduled for Thursday.

Chair Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea) and one of the bills' sponsors, has said she hopes to vote them out of committee and have them ready for full House consideration as early as this week.

The proposals, considered at the May 27 Transportation Committee meeting, would require Michigan road projects to take into account all users of transportation corridors, not just cars and trucks. Complete streets designs could include better pedestrian crossings, marked bike lanes and adding or configuring space for bus stops, for example.

The County Road Association of Michigan -- the statewide group representing 83 county road commissions -- opposes the bills, saying they create unfunded mandates for road projects. Byrnes acknowledges that "the cost factor is of some concern for our road commissions and the Michigan Department of Transportation" but says early planning saves costs down the road -- pun intended -- when or if projects need to be optimized for pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users and public transportation.

Even without the state mandate, the Complete Streets concept is already taking hold in some Michigan communities. The Midland Planning Commission last month unanimously adopted a policy. It doesn't specify road design but requires city planners to design, operate and maintain streets with attention to safety and accessibility for all users.

And the Grosse Pointe Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 9 at Beaumont, Grosse Pointe Hospital's Connelly Auditorium, 468 Cadieux, to take public comment on the proposal to designate bike routes on the east side suburbs' streets. Three local hospitals, the school district and the board of realtors support the proposal.

"Marked bike routes, including bike lanes, would provide safe cycling to parks, schools, shopping and for community and recreating," says Steve Roach, a Grosse Pointe Park resident and board member with the League of Michigan Bicyclists.