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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.

 

Meet SEMCOG's Blogging team:

Amy Mangus
Member Services
About Amy . . .
Read Amy's past posts

Dave Boerger
Government Efficiency
About Dave . . .
Read Dave's past posts

Bill Anderson
Local Government Revenue
About Bill . . .
Read Bill's past posts

Carmine Palombo
Transportation
About Carmine . . .
Read Carmine's past posts

Xuan Liu
Data & Demographics
About Xuan . . .
Read Xuan's past posts

Grant Brooks
Public Outreach
About Grant . . .
Read Grant's past posts

 

 

Think Regional/Act Local

The Power of Mother Nature

(Legislation, Regionalism, Stormwater management, Transportation) Permanent link

 

August 18, 2014 - Last Monday while driving home from a presentation in Birmingham, I saw something I have never seen before. There was so much water, creating so much pressure on the storm system that I saw a manhole cover literally explode out of the manhole! Incredible!

 

Monday was, indeed, an incredible day. I don't think I have ever seen so much rain in just a few hours. Each major piece of the public infrastructure system was taxed and pieces of each failed. The unprecedented rainfall severely impacted the road, storm and sewer, and electric systems, resulting in flooding in the streets and in many basements, as well as loss of electricity in some areas.

 

This situation was even worse on sections of the freeway, especially those below grade. Pumps are supposed to pump excess water out off the freeway, but many of the pumps either were overwhelmed by the volume of water or simply failed to work. Of course, I wonder where the pumps were supposed to pump the water to!

 

The result? Over 10 feet of water in some places. Water that covered several cars completely. By the way, the storm also knocked out electric service in several places which impacted the pumps on the freeway. I can't imagine having no electricity while watching water invade your basement. I feel so bad for so many people who had to endure that situation…and may still be.

 

The result? Cars totaled by their insurance companies, tons of bags of what used to be basement furniture, and personal things out on the street, people missing work to stay home and wait for help.

 

There have been several news stories about what happened and how we fix the situation. Mother Nature can display awesome power – power we cannot ever hope to totally mitigate. It is unreasonable to build an infrastructure system to address a storm of this size. A meteorologist said today that it was a once-every-500-years storm! However, it exposed the weakness in our public infrastructure system. We need to learn from this, prioritize improvements, and focus the resources we have on the most important improvements. We certainly need additional funding to improve the systems. We will never have the funds we need to fix everything, but we can make improvements over time.

 

It is our only chance to even begin to address the power of Mother Nature.

 

 

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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M-1 Progress

(Efficiency, Public transportation, Transportation) Permanent link

 

August 11, 2014 - It has been quite a summer for large transportation projects in our region. First, there was the massive closing of the I-96 freeway from Telegraph to Newburgh. As the summer has progressed, so has this project. Now, in mid-August, it looks like the project is into the home stretch. Parts of the freeway in the west part of the corridor look to be nearing completion and you can envision the day in the near future when this freeway will be open for business.

 

A second large project has just begun – the reconstruction of Woodward Avenue from downtown to New Center as part of the M-1 Streetcar project. This is the first time Woodward has been reconstructed since it was originally built. Construction continues to progress as planned. In preparation for track installation, crews have removed pavement along Woodward from Campus Martius to Adams Street. To ensure accessibility to businesses during construction, walkways have been installed across Woodward Avenue.

 

M-1 Digger

 

As you can see from the picture, things seem to be progressing very nicely. While this project does not impact as many vehicles as the I-96 closure does, it does potentially impact the business community in downtown, commuters trying to get to work, and visitors to the Fox Theatre, Tiger games and Lions games. So far, so good. Things seem to be going smoothly. A road project and a transit capital project moving forward – when was the last time you could say that in our region?

 

 

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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