Transportation key to young staying in Michigan

The Detroit News ran a commentary last month written by members of the Millennial Mayors Congress, which is “a partnership of city officials and rising leaders working together to address regional issues.”

Michigan’s transportation system is not getting young people where they need to go.

As citizens under 35, we know that not all of our peers can afford the $8,500 a year it takes, on average, to own a car. Some of us are looking to reduce our carbon footprints. Whatever the reasons, young people want to see a transportation system that gives everyone the freedom to get around, with or without a car. Unfortunately, failed transportation policies have been holding Michigan back.

Every year thousands of us leave for places that have functioning transit, safe biking and walking conditions, and convenient transportation between cities.

They also give support to Complete Streets.

We need to adopt a truly comprehensive “complete streets” policy, so Michiganians do not have to risk their lives to walk or bike.

It’s worth the time to read the entire opinion piece. It focuses mostly on public transit, which is expected since it was released during the recent Detroit light rail/bus rapid transit news.

Still widening highways

One minor correction? It speaks about MDOT widening highways in the past tense. MDOT is still widening highways.

Where did a majority of the transportation stimulus money go in Michigan? Widening an expressway. MDOT plans to spend well over a billion transportation dollars in Detroit over the next 20 years… to widen an expressway. Widening roads are still a funding priority for MDOT and many Metro Detroit municipalities.

Want to lose faith in Metro Detroit’s transportation decision makers? Take some time to review the road projects in SEMCOG’s transportation improvement plan (TIP).

Let’s look at the Road Commission for Oakland County’s 2012 TIP projects. They have $30.7 million in projects of which $21.8 million involves road widening.

Road agencies, SEMCOG, and others don’t like to publicize road widening projects because at the same time, they’re asking for more transportation funding.

They need the funding to continue building sprawl, but that’s not a good sales pitch — especially to millennials.

The Millennial Mayors Congress is also on Facebook.

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5 Responses to “Transportation key to young staying in Michigan”

  1. A.H. Says:

    Problem is Millenials don’t vote, and the folks who control the purse strings (*cough*L. Brooks Patterson & the OC Road Commission*cough*) don’t give two sh**s about attracting Millenials. So while I sympathize with the MMC, the political deck is stacked completely against them.

  2. Adam D. Says:

    I vaguely remember younger voters (under 30) being important in Obama’s election a few years back.

    They also vote by moving the F out of Michigan as is the whole point of the article.

  3. Joel Batterman Says:

    2001 speech from Patterson’s website:

    “The number one goal of Automation Alley thus became retaining the skilled talent in our backyard while also beating the bushes to attract the best and brightest from all over the country…we ran a campaign in more than two dozen college newspapers nationally.”

    I’m not quite as sure that the Somerset Collection, Great Lakes Crossing, and America’s most golf holes per capita are big Millennial draws, compared to revitalized cities with more transportation options, but I think more folks are starting to come around to that.

  4. Dylan Bailey Says:

    Young Person Here (22 y/o male) who voted in all of Detroit’s many elections in the last five years: the howl on Facebook after Bing, Snyder, & LaHood unilaterally nixed the Light Rail Plan setting us back five years. The plan that many of us attended meetings to support and give input to was the biggest anti-Detroit shout I’ve ever seen in my group of friends. I will not be supporting the mayor next term for that and many other reasons. We need results for transit. It’s not that hard. Every other city gets it done.

  5. Todd Scott Says:

    As negative as I can be about some parts of Metro Detroit, you guys make me hopeful that we’ll get out act together on transportation. Thanks for speaking up. And with a little luck (and some retirements), we might even make progress in Oakland County.

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