At this time of year, I always reflect back on the activities of the past year and look forward to the challenges that are lurking in the coming months. 2010 was a year that included discussion on many important transportation issues in Southeast Michigan, but sadly ended with action on very few. New revenue to invest in our quickly deteriorating road and bridge system was not acted on by the legislature. Funding for transit improvements, the creation of a regional transit authority, and approval to move forward on a new bridge to Canada were discussed, but remain on the table for further discussion and potential movement in 2011. We were also hoping for a new federal transportation funding bill out of Washington, but all we got was a lump of coal in the form of a continuing resolution – and no new dollars.
Planning continued on several transit projects including the Ann Arbor- Detroit Commuter Rail project and the Woodward Light Rail project – including the private-sector-funded piece known as the M-1 Rail, but neither project is as far along as was hoped. All in all, it was a very disappointing year as far as addressing our most important transportation needs.
2011 will begin with these and other important issues to address. But Christmas is the season of hope and we all need to re-energize ourselves to come back in 2011 with new resolve to keep these important issues in the forefront and continue to find a positive resolution.
So, what do I want for Christmas this year?
- A six-year federal transportation bill that provides twice the money that Michigan currently receives.
- An increase in state fuel tax and other fees that will allow us to match all the federal dollars to be made available by the new bill.
- A new Regional Transportation Authority for Southeast Michigan.
- A new Ambassador Bridge and a new DRIC bridge.
- Commuter rail from Ann Arbor-Detroit that connects to the new Woodward Light Rail.
For any of you who take the time to go back and read what I wanted for Christmas last year, you will see that it is exactly the same list!
Let’s hope that working together locally with new leadership in Washington and Lansing, we can get some of these important things done in the coming year and help with the economic recovery of our region and state.
Merry Christmas and hopes for a wonderful 2011 to all!