Transit Connector Study Funding Finally OK’d

The study of a transportation connector between the northeast and south sides of Ann Arbor has received the final nudge forward it needed to get started – a $30,000 contribution from the city of Ann Arbor. The council approved the study of the connector corridor at its Oct. 15, 2012 meeting.

The council actually voted twice on the issue at the same meeting. On the first vote, the resolution failed. But a few minutes later, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) – who had initially voted against it – asked for reconsideration of the vote, and she changed her vote to support it, as did Mike Anglin (Ward 5).

Voting against the proposal on the second and final vote, which got more than the eight yes votes it needed to pass, was Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) was absent. The key votes in favor were those of Higgins, who had been absent when the funding had been considered and rejected at a Sept. 4, 2012 meeting, and Sabra Briere (Ward 1), who had voted against it at that Sept. 4 meeting.

The corridor runs from US-23 and Plymouth southward along Plymouth to State Street and farther south to I-94. The funding approved on Oct. 15 would support an alternatives analysis phase of the study, which will result in identifying a preferred mode (e.g., bus rapid transit, light rail, etc.) and the location of stations and stops. A feasibility study for the corridor costing $640,000 has already been completed. That initial study concluded that some type of improved high-capacity transit system would be feasible – which could take the form of bus rapid transit, light rail transit, or elevated automated guideway transit.

The council’s choice to help fund the project came at least partly as a result of a decision by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board – made as its Oct. 3, 2012 meeting – to contribute $30,000 to the study. The DDA’s contribution had been contingent on the city making a $30,000 commitment as well.

The total of $300,000 in local funding sources for the $1.5 million study is now: $150,000 from the University of Michigan; $90,000 from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; $30,000 from the Ann Arbor DDA; and $30,000 from the city of Ann Arbor. The $300,000 satisfies a 20% matching requirement for a $1.2 million federal grant the AATA has received to complete the $1.5 million project.

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

The city of Ann Arbor had initially been asked to contribute the entire $60,000. But the council voted on Sept. 4, 2012 to reject that request. Then the council 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.

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

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]