DDA Kicks in $30K for Transit Connector

The study of a transportation connector between the northeast and south sides of Ann Arbor has been given a $30,000 boost by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. The corridor runs from US-23 and Plymouth southward along Plymouth to State Street and farther south to I-94. This alternatives analysis phase of the study is to result in identifying a preferred choice of technology (e.g., bus rapid transit, light rail, etc.) and the location of stations and stops. The decision to help fund the project was made at the DDA board’s Oct. 3, 2012 meeting.

The grant from the DDA to the project would come from parking revenues, split equally between the current fiscal year (2013) and next year. It also would be contingent on the city of Ann Arbor providing $30,000 to the project as well. Part of the rationale for the DDA is a situation described by DDA board member Roger Hewitt: A likelihood that the additional capacity of the public parking system, even enhanced by the new 700-space Library Lane underground garage, would be exceeded sooner than expected.

The additional $30,000 from the DDA – when added to the $150,000 that the University of Michigan has pledged,  $90,000 from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, and a possible $30,000 from the city – would bring the total local funding to $300,000. That would satisfy the 20% matching requirement for a $1.2 million grant the AATA has received to complete the $1.5 million project.

The AATA has given approval of a contract with URS Corp. to start the work, contingent on lining up the remaining $60,000 in local matching funds.

Whether the Ann Arbor city council decides to allocate $30,000 to the project is an open question. Previously, when the council was asked to provide $60,000, the proposal was rejected. The council voted on Sept. 4, 2012 to reject it, but reconsidered that vote two weeks later on Sept. 17, 2012. But on reconsideration of the vote, the council decided to postpone a decision until Oct. 15.

Part of the political mix is the need for the 11-member council to achieve an eight-vote majority – because the resolution reflects a change to the city budget. If the council approves the money on Oct. 15, it will be without the vote of Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), who previously voted for the funding, despite some strongly expressed concern. Kunselman announced at the council’s Oct. 1 meeting that he would not be able to attend the Oct. 15 meeting.

And based on the Sept. 4 deliberations, Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) would be likely votes against it. That means approval would require unanimity across the rest of the council, including Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). While Higgins was absent for the Sept. 4 vote, Briere was present and voted against the funding.

The timeline for completion of the study would be about a year and a half.

This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301, where the DDA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]