MDOT proposal receives mixed reviews from Bath Township

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) presented a plan during the Bath Township Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 20 to reconstruct the intersection on Business Loop I-69 and Marsh Road, aiming to make it safer and more efficient. The state-funded plan is to transform the current intersection into a J-turn format, with a pedestrian crossing to allow for non-motorized access through the intersection, which would restrict northbound vehicle traffic up Marsh Road short of the neighborhood past the intersection. It also has federal funding from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program to help reduce traffic build-up and improve air quality with less idling at the stop lights. However, the plan has been met with mixed reviews from township residents and board members.

Federal grant aids seniors’ transportation

By ANTHONY HARVEY
Capital News Service
LANSING – Seniors will be one step closer to independence with the help of a $1 million federal grant to assist them in getting to doctors’ appointments. U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, both Democrats, announced that a grant to the Michigan Department of Transportation would allow more access to transportation to and from physician visits, appointments and other tasks. The grant would assist non-emergency transportation services that use buses or vans to accommodate seniors. MDOT sponsored a grant application from the Michigan Transportation Connection, a statewide nonprofit, under a federal program called Rides to Wellness Demonstration and Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility.

Michigan lags in charging stations for electric vehicles

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service
LANSING—Michigan has only 2 percent of the nation’s public charging stations for electric vehicles. Lansing has the most stations–27–and Detroit has two stations less. There are 11,254 alternative fueling stations, which can charge electric vehicles, and 31,265 charging outlets in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, while Michigan only has 271 stations and 681 charging outlets. Robert Feldmaier, director of the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology at Macomb Community College, said there is a reason why Michigan doesn’t have many charging stations: “California has a lot, but Michigan doesn’t, because there aren’t that many electric vehicles here, so there isn’t that much demand.”

Feldmaier said there are few charging stations near Macomb County, so most people charge their electric vehicles at home. Some public places having charging stations provided by private companies, not the government.

State will test more high-speed rails

By YUEHAN LIU
Capital News Service
LANSING—Part of the Michigan passenger rail service goes 110 miles an hour, but not all of it. Next year the state will test additional tracks to support that speed along the Amtrak route between Detroit and Chicago. “We have three Amtrak trains that run from Michigan to Chicago and the rider shift numbers are continuing to go up,” Kirk Steudle, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), said. “And we are improving the rail line. So 110 is our goal to enhance the speed and cut down the time between Detroit and Chicago.

State eyes more drones in the skies

By AMELIA HAVANEC
Capital News Service
LANSING – Drones on retail shelves for the upcoming holiday season or bomb unsuspecting civilians in war zones get lots of media attention, but Michigan’s Aeryon SkyRanger flies below the public attention radar. It’s a remotely operated aircraft system, belonging to the State Police, that the Federal Aviation Administration approved for use anywhere in Michigan. But does Michigan need it? Would a future sky full of drones help Michigan residents feel safe? Deploying the Aeryon SkyRanger comes with many advantages, according to the State Police.

Changing preferences challenge transportation agencies

By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Increased fuel efficiency, an insufficient gas tax and younger generations’ disinterest in owning cars have created a complicated combination of financial concerns for Michigan transportation agencies. Experts predict it’s not likely to change soon. Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle said younger generations increasingly depend on other forms of transportation as they put off a major car purchase. That trend “showed up in a survey in the mid-2000s, where it said the public wanted more access to move around and they wanted different choices on how to move around. In fact, we had never gotten that response before, and we’d been doing the long-range plan for decades,” Steudle said.

Grant will improve parking safety for truckers

By ZHAO PENG
Capital News Service
LANSING— Michigan expects a $3 million federal grant to expand its Truck Parking Information and Management System to provide parking information for truck drivers to increase their safety, according to the Department of Transportation (MDOT). “We were really happy that the federal government saw this as a worthwhile project,” said Kirk Steudle, the MDOT director. “Truck parking is a very real problem.”
Chuck Simmons, safety management specialist at the Michigan Center for Truck Safety, said truck drivers have a problem finding safe and available parking, which increases the danger for them. “It could be challenging to find a parking spot. If they can’t find a safe spot, they will find whatever is available,” Simmons said.

Train Routes

By COLLEEN OTTE
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan’s transportation organizations are studying planes, trains and automobiles. More options for public transit could play a huge role in the state’s competitiveness in attracting and retaining people, young and old, transportation experts say. They’ve recently launched four studies to assess the feasibility of new Michigan rail routes. The studies will assess traffic flows, taking into consideration automobile, bus and air traffic, said Elizabeth Treutel, a Michigan Environmental Council policy associate. “A big goal of the studies is understanding what are the traffic flows now?” she said.

Bills could raise speed limits on state roads

By JOSH THALL
Capitol News Service
LANSING — A new package of bills would result in higher speed limits on state roads across Michigan and fewer “speed traps” set by local police departments, if passed and signed into law. The bills are designed to set optimum speeds on state roadways by relying on driver behavior, road conditions and accident data, according to officials with the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Transportation. The package would also restrict local governments from arbitrarily lowering speed limits on sections of roadway, supporters said. A similar proposal was introduced two years ago by Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, a former county sheriff who supports the bills. “The Michigan State Police gave a presentation on how, for 40 years, speed limits have been set scientifically and it has been shown to be the safest speed,” Jones said.

Lansing Infrastructure: Can Proposal 1 Save It?

By Emma-Jean Bedford
and Ian Wendrow 
Listen Up, Lansing

LANSING-The question on everyone’s mind lately has been: “What’s happening with these roads?” But it’s not just roads that are troublesome. Lansing has recently been dealing with issues related to low residential population, a distinct lack of diverse businesses, and overall deteriorating infrastructure. An effort to address infrastructure funding is currently on the upcoming May 5 ballot, titled Proposal 1. Proposal 1 is a ballot initiative meant to raise funds, mostly for new road work, through changes in taxes. If passed, the House Fiscal Agency, a non-partisan agency within the House of Representatives that analyzes the financial effects of Michigan legislation, estimates that the tax increase would raise about $2.1 billion this fiscal year; of which $1.23 billion would go towards roads, $463.1 million to the state’s general fund, $292.4 million to schools and $89.9 million to local governments.