October 16, 2012 – Yesterday, U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood paid yet another visit to Detroit to help us in our latest attempt to establish a regional transit authority in Southeast Michigan. LaHood, along with Governor Snyder and Mayor Bing, are working with state legislative leaders to resurrect the proposed Regional Transit Authority legislation that’s been idled in the legislature for months now.
Nothing has happened because we have yet to address the same old issues that have plagued us for years: the Detroit delegation is concerned about shifting too much control away from the city, and suburban lawmakers worry about paying for a transit system that many suburbanites don’t use.
LaHood reminded us again that metro Detroit is the only big city in the country without a regional authority to oversee public transit. He is prepared to put millions on the table to help build a rapid-transit bus system on major routes such as Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan Avenue, in addition to $25 million for a private venture to build a streetcar on Woodward from downtown to the New Center area, “if this community can get its act together.”
So there it is – again! Get our act together and get millions of dollars from the federal government that will improve our transportation system, enhance economic development opportunities, and help more people get to essential services. Or do nothing and lose the opportunity to improve our situation. The decision is ours.
Last time we were in this situation, Gerald Ford was president and promised us $600 million to build a subway if we could agree on how to spend it. We never did and we have been living with that decision every day since. We have another chance. Please let’s not blow it! This could be our last chance for many years to come.
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