Posts Tagged ‘TIGER IV’

Detroit River trails and ferries in the news

Monday, July 9th, 2012

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to highlight all the trail and bike media coverage for the city of Detroit.

We’re even seeing great photos like this one of regular people riding the “Dequinder” Cut in a Detroit News article about the weather.

Below are some updates primarily about the RiverWalk, ferry service, and TIGER grant.

Detroit RiverWalk‘s 10th anniversary

The Free Press ran stories about the RiverWalk that were run during the RiverDays event. It’s great that Harriet Saperstein is part of the article as she’s been one of the longtime proponents of developing riverfront trails as well as other bicycling facilities throughout Detroit.

…Saperstein, who still visits the waterfront and Belle Isle on a regular basis from her Lafayette Park home, said the vision developed for the riverfront in the 1970s continues to motivate fans of the waterfront today.

“You stay patient and persistent, and you come at it again and again and again,” she said earlier this month.

The idea for Detroit riverfront trails is more than 10 years old. It pre-dates Saperstein and goes all the way back 113 years to Mayor Hazen Pingree.

The Free Press also created this video that interviews RiverWalk users.

Craig Fahle Show

Last Friday’s Craig Fahle Show included a more general discussion of trails and biking in Detroit, including changing perceptions of greenways, connecting greenways, the $10 million TIGER grant, public bike sharing, and more. A podcast of the show is available on-line.

Detroit & Windsor Ferry Service

This CBS Detroit article gives an optimistic update on ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, which may start as soon as next spring. As we’ve been saying for a few years now, this would be an ideal means for bicyclists to get across the Detroit River.

Detroit Port Authority Chairman Louis James told CBS Detroit this news.

“We’ve already been funded for the ferry, we have companies that are coming to us that own ferries who would like to contract with us, so I don’t really see any real cost at this time. We hope to have, as I said, private contractors to come in and operate them,” he said.

James said he views the ferry as being a People Mover on the water. He said there could be one big ferry or several smaller ferries along the river, transporting roughly 200 passengers at a time.

?This morning we had another inquiry from bicycle tourists looking to cross the river. We’re hoping to have a good answer for them soon.

We got a TIGER for the trail!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

After getting rejected for funding in the TIGER III, the city of Detroit and collaborators tweaked the grant proposal and re-submitted for TIGER IV.

We didn’t get the $15.3 million we asked for, but we did get $10 million.

What does this fund? The proposal centers around Eastern Market by improving streetscapes and bridges, while making three non-motorized connections via a Dequindre Cut extension, another segment of the Midtown Loop, and bike lanes to the proposed Hamtramck Trails network.

There’s more coverage on the MTGA web site and in articles by Crain’s Detroit Business and mLIVE.

Globe Trading Building

While these greenway connections improve access to Eastern Market, they also improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians heading to the Detroit RiverWalk and Milliken State Park. As for the latter, last month the DNR announced their $12.8 million investment in an Outdoor Discovery Adventure Center in the park and along the Dequindre Cut.

This Free Press article makes it sound like quite the trail-side attraction.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said this morning it anticipates as many as a million visitors a year coming to its planned discovery center to be built in the historic Globe Building on Detroit?s east riverfront.

Features will include a 60-foot climbing wall, an archery range, simulator rides demonstrating kayaking and other water sports, and classrooms to teach schoolchildren and other visitors outdoor safety as well as the science of natural resources and wetlands.

And yes, a young Henry Ford was an apprentice in this building while working on ship engines.

Given the current state of the Globe Trading Building, it’s difficult imagining that it will be open next year, but that is the timeline.

The DNR also expects a million visitors a year.

A cycling perspective on the Detroit Consent Agreement

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

With a 5-4 City Council vote, it appears the City has at least temporarily kept Governor Rick Snyder from appointing an emergency finance manager.

That vote was for a “historic” consent agreement, according to the Detroit Free Press:

In the historic consent agreement between the city and state over the management of Detroit, the city agreed to give up — at least temporarily — a good deal of sovereignty over its financial affairs.

So aside from the hope of future solvency, what does Detroit get in return?

A modest amount of increased state spending — and an array of promises.

The 53-page agreement does keep City Council in charge of policy, which is a positive for our Complete Streets efforts. Detroit’s road money is separate from the general budget. We’ve argued that our Complete Streets ordinance wouldn’t add to the city deficit. It just divides up the road funding pie in a slightly different way.

The agreement also contains some state promises which affect Detroit cyclists to varying degrees.

The Positives

The state vows to:

  • Improve public lighting by working with the city to create a separate authority to manage and finance streetlights.” Working street lights can reduce crashes.
  • “Move ahead with the New International Trade Crossing project.” The bridge plans do include a bicycle pathway.
  • “Invest in a regional, multi-modal system including BRT, bike paths and walkability.” We’re not sure if this means more state investment or just continued funding.
  • “Assist the market in applying for a federal TIGER grant to create a seamless trail system from the Riverfront through the Eastern Market, Brush Park, and Wayne State University areas.” It’s a little late. Detroit already applied.
  • Riverfront – Develop the Globe Building, expand Milliken State Park, dedicate a new launch for citizens near Riverfront Park and assist DEGC with resources and talent to transform Hart Plaza.” The latter likely refers to an expansion of Hart Plaza over land that was previously used for the Ford Auditorium.
  • Belle Isle – Create park funding for Belle Isle while ensuring continued City ownership by designating Belle Isle as a part of a cooperative relationship with Milliken State Park. This would include a long-term lease that would accrue the cost of the park’s maintenance and improvements out of the Park Endowment Fund. We will partner with Belle Isle Conservancy and the City to implement a master plan for the Island.”

The Belle Isle item is among the more interesting. Unfortunately the Free Press already got it wrong with an article titled, “Belle Isle likely won’t be free anymore.

If the island is managed like other Michigan State Parks, there will only be an annual $10 fee for arriving by motor vehicle. One can walk or bike into state parks for free and the same would likely be true with Belle Isle.

While some cheer that this small fee will keep out the less desirable elements, those elements won’t disappear. They’ll find another location, just like they do now when the island closes at 10pm. A fee is not a total solution.

The Big Negative

It can’t all be positive for Detroit cyclists, right? The state vows to:

  • “Accelerate a capacity improvement project for I-94 from I-96 to Conner Avenue, supporting more than 13,000 jobs between 2012 and 2020.”

This outdated, mostly unnecessary MDOT project will wipe out 9 bridges over the expressways, including some pedestrian bridges, Third Street, and John R. It effectively widens the I-94 scar through the community.

The Governor needs to get involved in this project since the cost/benefit numbers just don’t add up. It’s “benefit” is from a 1980’s frame of reference that put a priority on reducing rush hour congestion irregardless of the effects on the local community.

Fortunately some local activists are started to pull together some project opposition.

City of Detroit submits TIGER IV grant

Monday, March 19th, 2012

We mentioned Detroit submitted a TIGER III transportation grant that would have extended the Dequindre Cut and Midtown Loop. built bike lanes from Eastern Market to the planned Hamtramck Trail, and made major street improvements at Eastern Market.

That grant wasn’t funded though the city was told by one congressional office that it scored near the top.

The City is submitting an improved version of the grant request this round.

Competition?

One interesting wrinkle this time is it appears the M1 Rail group is applying for a $25 million TIGER IV grant as well. Even though it would be from the transit portion of TIGER IV, it’s unlikely two big grants would come to Detroit.

From the Detroit News:

[U.S. DOT Secretary Ray] LaHood said in January the government will consider awarding Detroit’s light-rail project up to $25 million on top of $25 million awarded for a bus rapid transit system.

LaHood told The Detroit News he is willing to offer additional government money if the M-1 light rail coalition can show it is financially viable.

Congressional aides said the M-1 plan assumes it will win the $25 million grant, which the FTA says is not certain.

The Detroit News is reporting the the U.S. DOT has “serious concerns” about the M1 Rail’s viability. The Detroit Free Press reports a more moderate response.

…while no decision has been made, there is skepticism in Washington, including concerns that the M-1 plan’s cost estimate — at $125 million — is too low and that the group of private investors won’t pull together enough private financing to qualify for a $25-million federal grant for the project.

Of course the other issue with M1 Rail and bicycling is their plan to run the street cars along the curbs. As we’ve said before, curbside alignments are problematic for cyclists and Complete Streets advocates.

Seattle cyclists sue

The street car tracks are a major safety issue and liability. At least a half-dozen Seattle cyclists have lawsuits against the city for crashes due to street car rails. We spoke with an attorney handling these cases and they said this would be a class action lawsuit if their office had the capacity to organize such an effort.

Does MDOT really want to open themselves up to that?

MDOT should know it’s a hazardous design for bicyclists — it’s mentioned as such in Detroit’s Woodward light rail reports.

There are safety concerns for bicycle users with [the curbside designs] due to the potential for bicycle tires to be caught within the rail flange space in the road. While alternative rail types may reduce this potential conflict, it cannot be fully mitigated.

Of course the odds are that neither project will receive the funding. It’s a hyper-competitive grant source.

Then again, Michigan’s only successful TIGER III grant was a road to a landfill, so anything is possible.