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Welcome to SEMCOG's Think Regional/Act Local blog! SEMCOG is the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all governments to solve regional challenges and enhance the quality of life for the seven-county regions 4.7 million residents. With this regional perspective in mind, we work with member local governments to sustain our regions reputation as a great place to work, play, and do business.

 

Our panel of SEMCOG staff bloggers will post daily to this blog, discussing SEMCOG's data, federal and state legislative issues, and environmental and fiscal sustainability best practices for local governments all with the goal of creating a successful future for the region.

 

 

Think Regional/Act Local

Bike Sharing coming to Southeast Michigan

(Public transportation, Transportation, Walkability bikeability) Permanent link

 

September 26, 2014 -At SEMCOG’s recent Transportation Coordinating Council (TCC) meeting there were a couple of presentations about “bike sharing.” Ann Arbor’s bike share system was launched this week and Detroit is aiming for launch in 2016. Bike sharing makes bicycles available to individuals for short-term use. The program works by installing bike share stations that include a kiosk for payment and several bikes. You get a bike at a station, ride it to where you want to go, and return it at any station.

 

bikeshare
View the above slide from the TCC meeting.

 

There are multiple benefits to be gained from bike sharing, from reducing congestion and air pollution to encouraging healthy activity. Bike share is also important for attracting and retaining talent, particularly young professionals who are less interested in driving and owning a vehicle than they are in living in vibrant, walkable urban areas. There can even be economic benefits – in other cities with bike share programs, businesses are requesting that bike share stations be placed in their neighborhood.

 

One potential funding source for establishing a bike share program is SEMCOG’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

 

Find out more about the Ann Arbor system and stay tuned for the Detroit launch coming in 2016!

 

 

 

Amy
Amy has been with SEMCOG for over 20 years. Much of that time has been spent working the member relations beat. In this role, she is responsible for ensuring SEMCOG member communities are represented on SEMCOG's General Assembly, that these local officials are aware of SEMCOG benefits, and that they know how to access the benefits. She oversees the processes that govern the organization and assists members in participating on SEMCOG governing bodies. Amy has a Master's degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University.

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One Step at a Time

(Collaboration, Public transportation) Permanent link

 

September 22, 2014 -Last week, the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) took another step forward when they approved the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) for the Woodward Corridor. What does this mean? Well, it means that the RTA approved the work that has been done by a team of 11 communities in the Woodward corridor from Pontiac to Detroit, led by SEMCOG and the consultant team of Parsons Brinkerhoff. It means that they agreed with the narrowing-down process used to analyze many different alternatives till there was just a main alternative with only a couple of potential deviations to further study.

 

The LPA has bus rapid transit (BRT) operating in the median of Woodward for the greatest majority of the 27 miles from Pontiac to Detroit. It switches to Cass once the BRT goes south of West Grand Boulevard by the Amtrak train station and stays on Cass to the Rosa Parks Transit Station. Going north, the BRT will use John R. before going back on Woodward north of West Grand Blvd.

 

The approval by the RTA means that the environmental study can now begin to further refine the analysis. This work is estimated to take about 12 months. This process will enable us to further understand the project, so that the Woodward BRT can be part of a plan the RTA asks voters to support in a referendum in November, 2016.

 

It is not easy to plan for a project that goes through 11 communities, but we did it. This project has been a success to this point because of the hard work done by the communities along the way. They attended many meetings throughout the past two years, not only with our consultant team, but with their elected and business leaders, getting input and helping to explain and sell the project. We were supported by a consultant team that did whatever was needed to get the job done. Want to go to Cleveland to see BRT in action? No problem, we can do that. And we did! Thank you for your leadership and hard work. Finally, I want to thank the RTA Board, who approved the work to-date, even though much of the work was done before they were even formed.

 

This is another step in moving transit forward. In the coming months you will see similar studies starting in the Gratiot and Michigan corridors and a Transit Master Plan developed in preparation for the November 2016 referendum. Lots of work to be done…and little time, but here we go – one step at a time!

 

 

Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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A Big Week

(Legislation, Public transportation, Transportation) Permanent link

 

September 15, 2014 -The M-1 Streetcar and I-96 reconstruction projects are two of the largest projects in the region and both were in the news last week. I-96 has been closed since early April between Telegraph and Newburgh roads for a complete reconstruction. I drive the service drive at least once a week and it has been fascinating watching the progress over the summer. It was scheduled to open in mid-October, but it was announced last week that it would open on September 30 – almost two weeks early.

 

It has been a landmark project in so many ways, but the most important thing to take away is that the project will be completed early. The fact that it was done in one season means that the impact to residents, local business, and freeway users was limited to one construction season and done at a lower cost than if it were done over two seasons. The contractor also guaranteed the project for several years. This project will become a prototype for future freeway reconstructions.

 

The federal government announced the TIGER grants last Friday and we learned that the M-1 Streetcar project was awarded $12.2 million. This will certainly help the bottom line for the first significant transit capital project in the region since the PeopleMover. So far, construction appears to be going smoothly. Monday, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will be in Detroit to make the award and take part in ribbon-cutting ceremonies. This is a very important project for the city and public transit in the region. It signals the first step in building a regional transit system. No more talking about it – it is being built!

 

Anthony Foxx

U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

 

These two projects are both transformative and important for the future of the region. They signal a new beginning and give us a peek into the future of freeway reconstruction and our transit system. Now, if we can just get the legislature to support these and other important improvements with additional revenue!

 

 

Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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The future begins today

(Transportation) Permanent link

 

September 8, 2014 -Power outages, torrential rain, bad pavement, flooded roads. It is hard to think about the future when we are dealing with so many real issues today. However, try to put these real issues aside for just a moment and go see the future of transportation on display this week at Cobo Center and Belle Isle. The Intelligent Transportation Society (ITS) World Congress is happening in Detroit this week, and it has gotten off to a great start.

 

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) announced that is partnering with General Motors, Ford Motor Co., and a University of Michigan (U-M) consortium to deploy technology that will allow for vehicles to transmit information to other vehicles on more than 120 miles of Metro Detroit roadway, including stretches of I-696 and I-94.

 

Why should we care about this? Well, this technology will enable vehicles to transmit information on road conditions to other vehicles and alert drivers to potential problems. This technology has the potential to prevent drivers from encountering hazards and can greatly improve safety.

 

The stretch of I-96/I-696 from US-23 in Brighton east to I-94 in St. Clair Shores has been chosen to become the region's first "connected corridor." Why? It is located in the heart of the region's technology and automotive development corridor and is one of the most heavily traveled routes in the state.

 

SEMCOG is supportive of this technology as it helps us to implement our goals of improving the efficiency of the transportation system and enhancing the safety of the system. It would have been great to have this system in place over the past few weeks to advise us of potholes and places where the roads were flooded. What can stall this from going forward? Well, inadequate funding is one big issue that needs to be addressed for sure. Just another reason to get Congress and the Legislature to provide the necessary funding to improve our roads and bridges now.

 

 

Carmine Palombo
If you want to know what about anything related to transportation in Southeast Michigan, don’t miss Carmine Palombo's blog. Carmine has more than 30 years of experience in various phases of transportation planning at SEMCOG. He is responsible for administering SEMCOG’s transportation planning program, which includes the region’s long-range transportation plan and short-term transportation plan.

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