Stories indexed with the term ‘transit master plan’

AATA Bumps Budget for Consultant

At its Feb. 16, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board authorized an increase in a contract with Steer Davies Gleave (SDG), by $95,500 to $288,817. The current contract with the London-based consultant, initially hired two years ago to help develop AATA’s transit master plan, is for “implementation assistance” of the plan. The original implementation assistance contract was approved by the board at its July 19, 2011 meeting.

At that board meeting, some board members indicated they’d like to see SDG include more local resources as the process moves forward. The local planning firm Carlisle Wortman has since been engaged. The original contract with SDG for development of the transit master plan was for $399,805. It was previously extended and increased at … [Full Story]

Washtenaw Transit Talk in “Flux”

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Oct. 20, 2011): Over the last two weeks, several significant developments in transportation planning have unfolded in and around Ann Arbor, not all of them at the most recent meeting of the AATA board.

Michael Ford

AATA CEO Michael Ford adjusts the microphone for board member Charles Griffith at the board’s Oct. 20 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

At an Oct. 10 Ann Arbor city council work session, the council received an update on the high capacity connector study for a geographic area that broadly connects the boomerang-shaped swath from Plymouth Road and US-23 down through Ann Arbor to South State Street.

Most significantly, the swath connects the University of Michigan’s north, central and medical campuses. The basic conclusion of that study was delivered to the AATA board several months ago: Sufficient ridership exists in the core of that area to support some kind of high-capacity “fixed guideway” system like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), light rail, or elevated guideway.

What’s new are the steps that are now being taken to secure funding for the next phase of the connector study: An analysis that will yield the “preferred alternative.” That alternative will include selection of a specific transportation technology, as well as proposed routes and station locations.

Funding for part of that alternatives analysis was announced on Oct. 13 by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation – $1.2 million has been awarded to the AATA. However, that funding won’t cover the cost of the environmental study component of the project.

Related to that project, on Oct. 19 the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) policy board voted to add the alternatives analysis to its Unified Planning Work Program. Next up will be formal action by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Michigan Dept. of Transportation that will facilitate funding applications to the Federal Highway Administration by the spring of 2012. Work on the study might begin before complete federal funding is in place.

The high-capacity connector study is taking place in the context of AATA’s countywide transportation master plan, which the board approved earlier this year, after more than a year of development. On Oct. 20, a day after the WATS policy board vote, the first meeting of a group was held that could become the board of a new countywide transportation authority. That new authority could be formed under Michigan’s Act 196 of 1986 – the current group is called the U196 board, short for “unincorporated Act 196.” Their first meeting was relatively informal, but members determined to schedule meetings for November and December instead of waiting until January 2012.

The following week, on Oct. 26, Gov. Rick Snyder gave a speech outlining key components of a sketch for improved transportation infrastructure in the state. The speech included a call for the formation of a regional transit authority in southeast Michigan that could include Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.

Two days later, on Oct. 28, the content of the governor’s speech was part of the focus of conversation for a transportation financial planning group, led by former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel and McKinley Inc. CEO Albert Berriz. The group convened its second of four meetings that it expects to hold before the end of the year. In early 2012, the group is expected to deliver a white paper to the U196 board with recommendations on funding options for countywide transit.

At that meeting, the group heard from Dennis Schornack, a special advisor to Snyder on transportation. Schornack sketched out the contents of a still “somewhat secret” three-bill package that would establish a regional transit authority (RTA), including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. Reaction of the financial planning group to the RTA seemed sanguine. The idea of possibly funding transit through vehicle registration fees (enacted on an ad valorem basis), as an alternative to floating a countywide transit millage, appeared to be the most attractive aspect of the possible RTA.

Berriz concluded that Schornack’s presentation had thrown the group’s conversation into a state of flux.

Amid that activity, the AATA board did its part to keep the existing buses running, by convening its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 20. Of its action items, the most significant was a resolution authorizing its CEO to begin negotiations with Michigan Flyer to contract for bus service between downtown Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro airport.

Given the possibility that an RTA could be in Ann Arbor’s future, Schornack’s advice on the Detroit-Ann Arbor airport contract was this: Keep it short-term. [Full Story]

AATA OKs Release of Funding Report

At its Aug. 24, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board authorized release of the ”Volume 3: Funding Options Report” of its transit master plan (TMP). The TMP is part of the AATA’s effort to fulfill a countywide transportation mission.

Volume 3 of the TMP was authorized for release to “a panel of financial and public funding experts to review, refine, and adjust the document.” The first two volumes were released to the public earlier this year. [.pdf of draft "Volume 1: A Transit Vision for Washtenaw County"] [.pdf of draft "Volume 2: Transit Master Plan Implementation Strategy"]

Co-chairing the panel will be Albert Berriz, CEO of McKinley Inc., and Bob Guenzel, retired Washtenaw County administrator.

Funding recommendations made by the panel of experts are to be forwarded to the constituted unincorporated Act 196 board (U196) for further consideration and action. The transition of transportation service from the AATA to an authority formed under Act 196 of 1986 is the most likely scenario under which transit funding would be established on a countywide basis.

At its July 19, 2011 meeting, the board authorized the board chair to appoint three of its members to the U196 board and authorized the AATA’s CEO to use AATA resources in support of the U196. Update: The AATA has now made the report available in digital form: [.pdf of Part 1 of the Vol. 3 Funding Report] [.pdf of Part 2 of the Vol. 3 Funding Report]

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]

AATA OKs Final Transit Plan Release

At its June 16, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board passed a resolution endorsing Volumes 1 and 2 of its countywide transit master plan (TMP) as revised and amended. The plans had been previously released to the public at its April 21, 2011 meeting.

A “whereas” clause in the board’s resolution provided some additional description of a transitional governance structure, which could lead to an eventual countywide authority established under Michigan’s Act 196 of 1986. The transitional structure would be “an interim and  ’unincorporated’ Act 196 Authority Board (‘U196 Board’) which will act as an ad hoc committee to establish an organizational framework and funding base for an expanded transit system, and to work toward formally creating and incorporating a … [Full Story]

Transit Center Construction Manager Hired

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (May 19, 2011): In a relatively brief meeting, the AATA board handled two pieces of business: (1) approving a contract with its CEO Michael Ford; and (2) hiring a construction manager for the reconstruction of the Blake Transit Center, AATA’s downtown hub.


This AATA-owned parcel, where Blake Transit Center is located, sits in the middle of the block bounded by Fourth and Fifth avenues on the west and east, and by Liberty and William streets on the north and south. Among the outstanding issues in a project to rebuild BTC is discussions with the city of Ann Arbor over a city-owned 6-foot-wide strip that runs along the southern edge of the parcel’s western half. (Image links to higher resolution view. Parcel map and aerial photo from Washtenaw County’s website:

The contract with Ford renews annually on Oct. 1 unless terminated by Ford or the AATA. Ford will earn the same salary as he did previously – $160,000 – but will receive a lump sum payment equal to 4% of his salary dating from July 20, 2009, when he was first hired. Board members uniformly praised Ford’s work for the AATA since he was hired in the summer of 2009.

Approval of the construction manager contract for the downtown Blake Transit Center sets up the reconstruction project possibly to begin in earnest later this year. AATA has so far declined to release any schematics or drawings of the proposed new transit center to the public, citing as-yet-unfinalized details, including issues related to a city-owned 6-foot-wide strip on the southern edge of the parcel’s western half.

The new transit center will be built on the same AATA-owned parcel where BTC is currently located, between Fourth and Fifth avenues, north of William Street and a city-owned surface parking lot. The current building sits at the northwest corner of the parcel, long Fourth Avenue – buses enter from Fifth Avenue and exit onto Fourth Avenue. The planned design calls for a new building to be constructed kitty-corner on the parcel from the existing building, which would be demolished. The new transit center would sit at the southeast corner of the parcel – buses would enter from Fourth Avenue and exit onto Fifth Avenue.

At its meeting, the board also heard its usual range of reports and commentary. Among those reports, Ford told the board that two local governments – Ann Arbor Township and Superior Township – have voted to sign an Act 7 agreement. That’s a step that will allow their joint participation and representation in a countywide transit authority. [Full Story]