December 18, 2009
At this time of year, I like to reflect on the activities of the past year and look forward to the challenges that are lurking in the coming months. Probably the biggest news of 2009 and the program that has had us working on all year long was the Stimulus Program – also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. This program brought in needed transportation dollars to address many of ongoing needs. We will give you a full accounting of spending in early 2010, but as of this writing, it looks like we pulled it off and will obligate all the dollars made available to Southeast Michigan.
Several trends also continued in 2009. Traffic crashes went down for yet another year. Unfortunately, traffic volumes and more importantly, transportation funding, also decreased. The state legislature turned a deaf ear to the efforts to raise the fuel tax to provide dollars badly needed to improve the transportation system in Michigan.
Planning continued on several transit projects – 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. There is great hope that next year at this time I will be writing about their initial success.
This year – 2009 – was also the last year of SAFETEA-LU – the federal transportation bill. Sadly, Congress has yet to reauthorize the bill, choosing instead to extend it weeks or months at a time. This will never work as a long-term strategy.
Many of these important issues will carry over into 2010 – so much of that agenda has already been set. So, what do I want for Christmas? Well, as long as you are asking:
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 to replace the old one and a brand new DRIC bridge.
Commuter rail from Ann Arbor-Detroit that connects to the new Woodward Light Rail.
Hey, it’s not like I asked for something impossible like a winning record for the Lions or anything that hard! Hope Santa can deliver!
Merry Christmas and hopes for a wonderful 2010 to all! See you in 2010!