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October 17, 2012 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2012-10-17

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6A - Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

In 8-2 vote, A2 council City votes in favor of
cimncwt transit siuidv rail station research

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City officials devoting funds to projects with-
out more specific plans in place,
prove additional expressing similar sentiments on
$30,000 for a rail station earlier in the meet-
"These are all major multi-mil-
research lion dollar initiatives, hundreds
of millions in upfront capital
IACOMO BOLOGNA and cost and tens of millions in incre-
TAYLOR WIZNER mental operating costs, and we
Daily StaffReporters continue to proceed (investing
local taxpayer dollars) in studies
er discussing the imple- without a strategy or establishing
tion of a second rail station priorities," she said.
Ann Arbor City Council However, Christopher Taylor
ng on Tuesday, council- (D-Ward 3) argued.the federal
ers considered a program money that would accompany
vould improve transit with- the council's allotment - which
e city, particularly within totals $1.2 million - far out-
niversity. weighs the city's cost of $30,000.
t week, members of the "1.2 million dollars of federal
Arbor Downtown Devel- money: that is a ratio that I'm
nt Authority approved very willing to support for infor-
00 for the second phase of mation that is deeply important
nn Arbor Connector study. to Ann Arbor's future," Taylor
nn Arbor Connector Proj- said. ,
egan in 2009 to examine The University has also con-
ossibility of increased bus- tributed $150,000 toward the
ad other forms of city tran- second phase of the study, since
lhe first portion concluded many of the investigated transit
nore service was necessary options would positively impact
ghout the city - including the University. This contribu-
the North Campus, Medi- tion - along with funds from
mpus and Central Campus AATA, the DDA and possibly the
, downtown Ann Arbor city - will fund the local match
Briarwood Mall. to leverage a $1.2 million federal
e second phase of the study grant.
nvestigate how to increase Jim Kosteva, the University's
g efficiency along these director of community relations,
and the funding will come wrote in an e-mail interview
parking structure profits, that the first phase of the analy-
and parkingviolation fines. sis found there are about 35,000
Zile a City Council resolu- passenger trips made each day
allotting $30,000 to this between the Central and Medi-
t originally failed to pass cal campuses to North Cam-
onday night by a one-vote pus, demonstrating the need for
n, the Council revisited the increased transit options.
nd Councilmember Marcia "The potential exists to
ns (D-Ward 4) changed her enhance transportation service
This brought the total vote and destination connections
to 8-2 in favor of the study, for the campus and community
Jane Lumm (I-Ward 2) and alike," Kosteva wrote. "This sec-
Anglin (D-Ward 5) dissent- and phase of analysis will help
focus on the best technology
mm was a heavy critic of prospects and potential routes

by which this might be accom-
plished."
Ann Arbor Mayor John Hief-
tje - who sits on the DDA board
along with City Councilmember
Sandi Smith (D-Ward 1) - said
in an interview that the.study is
vital to improving Ann Arbor's
transit system and ensuring that
the city remains environmentally
focused.
"I've been pushing for
enhanced and better transit ever
since I got into office and we've
made a lot of progress," Hieftje
said. "But I think we need to do
more ... our job base continues to
grow. There are goingto be 1,000
to 1,500 new jobs in Ann Arbor
each year and if we don't work on
the transit, people will be driv-
ing their cars into town and we'll
have to build more parking struc-
tures."
Hieftje said if the study pro-
duces a project in the future, the
benefit would extend to all city
residents, not just those affiliated
with the University.
"Underclassmen won't be here
when this gets built," Hieftje said.
"...but certainly future students
and the whole city as a whole will
benefit if this happens."
Hieftje added that he is not
concerned that the Council may
ultimately choose to deny the
funds.
"There may be another way
to find the funding," Hieftje
said. "Could be a local group, the
AATA could fund more or the U
of M."
He added that if the city
decides to pursue a transit proj-
ect from the study's results, the
project would have an 80 per-
cent match rate from the Michi-
gan government. However, he
said the first goal would be to
see what kind of improvement, if
any, is necessary.
"We won't know if that will
work or not unless we take this
next step," Hieftje said.
ON

from general fund
to project
By GIACOMO BOLOGNA
Daily StaffReporter
Following four years of
research, applications for
grants and continuous discus-
sion with the University, the
Ann Arbor City Council voted
8-2 in favor to spend $550,000
from the city's general fund
toward preliminary study and
planning for a second rail sta-
tion in Ann Arbor.
The idea for the additional
rail station - which will join
the current station located on
Depot Street - stems from a
proposed plan in 2008 between
the University and the city to
pursue supplementary trans-
portation and parking services.
The proposal arose as part of an
effort to address the burgeon-
ing need for transit and parking
space with the completion of
the C. S. Mott Children's Hospi-
tal and Von Voigtlander Wom-
en's Hospital, which opened
last year.
The University's Board of
Regents canceled the initial
2009 project, which entailed
construction of a parking
structure on Wall Street and
collaboration with the Fuller
Road Intermodal Station proj-
ect. However, the board revis-
ited the project in April and
approved construction plans,
which will cost an estimated
$34 million.
In addition to the struc-
ture, many city officials have
expressed support for a sec-
ond train station, noting it
is an important opportunity
for growth within the city.
Monday's resolution provides
matching funds of $550,000 in
conjunction with $2.2 million
from, the federal High-Speed
Intercity Passenger Rail pro-
gram funding for a $2.75 mil-
lion total.
Council spent considerable
time discussing the issue at its

hearings before the final vote
was held, garnering the eight
votes necessary to pass. Coun-
cilmember Stephen Kunselman
(Ward-3) was the only member
absent from the meeting.
In the initial stages of discus-
sion, Councilmember Christo-
pher Taylor (D-Ward 3) argued
that moving forward with the
rail station after years of dis-
cussion would be more effec-
tive than continuing to delay
the project.
"Although it has been a little
bit of a circuitous path to get
here, we have the means to
make this match now and the
goal is equally important to
Ann Arbor's future," he said.
"You can't have progress with-
out investment."
Previously, the resolution
stated that Ann Arbor residents
would vote on moving forward
with the train station. Before
the resolution was voted on,
Councilmember Sabra Briere
(D-Ward 1) added an amend-
ment that stipulates that the
vote by residents comes after
the city's study is conducted,
and would additionally halt
progress on the train station if
a majority voted no.
She emphasized the need for
schematic research to be con-
ducted in order to allow voters
to make informed decisions on
whether or not a second train
station would be justified.
"If we brought forward a
notional concept on a vote on
should we build a train station
any rational person could come
back to 'Where would it be?
What will it look like? How big
will it be? How much is it going
to cost?"' Briere said. "That's
why we don't go looking today
for that vote saying 'Should we
build a train station?"'
Because the residential vote
is now contingent on the com-
pletion of schematic designs
and studies, it will likely be sev-
eral years before voters see any.
ballot language on this issue,
Taylor said in an interview dur-
ing an intermission.

Decision will meeting Monday night. Coun-
cilmembers also listened to
allocate $550,000 several residents speak for and
against the resolution in public

Councilmember Jane Lumm
(I-Ward 2) argued strongly
against the resolution, claiming
that the money the city would
spend is another financial bur-
den toward a project lacking
direction.
"In June we were assured
in no uncertain terms that
the previous cost the city had
absorbed related to this proj-
ect would qualify as the match
for this grant and no new city
money would be required," she
said. "Well guess what, the past
costs don't qualify and we need
to put up another $550,000 of q
your tax dollars to satisfy their
local match."
She also challenged the
speed at which the resolution
- which was introduced on
Friday - moved through the
Council, and said it was too
accelerated.
"At some point one concludes
it's time to stop throwing good
money after bad or at least hit
pause until there's a plan,"
Lumm said. "I believe we are
way past that point."
Lumm noted that accounting
for the $550,000 in this reso-
lution, the city will have spent
$2.7 million of its total funds
toward this project.
Still, Councilmember
Carsten Hohnke (D-Ward 5)
posited that residents want to
see a second rail station.
"I think the significant con-
sensus out there is that mov-
ing forward with investment in
high-speed rail are the right to
do," he said.
He addressed concerns
raised from a community mem-
ber that spending the $550,000
would be a "gamble" consider-
ing the total cost of the project
would be too much for the city.
Hohnke countered the concern
and said once a final projection
is determined, national and
state funding would be avail-
able to help pay for the station.
During discussion of the res-
olution, Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor
transportation program man-
ager, fielded questions from the
Council regarding a second rail
station's feasibilityi
Cooper said in an interview
during an intermission that the
preliminary cost for the project
totals $42 million.
"For this particular project
since we don't have a site, these .
are very conceptual numbers
but it gives us a frame of ref-
erence," Cooper said. "Plus or
minus 20 to 30 percent, that's
the cost of the project we might
expect when we get done with
the planning process."
He noted that even with fed-
eral guidance, the expected
allocation of the city will be
considerable.
"I think for the most partthe
federal transportation grant
funds are 80-20, so 80 per-
cent would be federal," Cooper
said. The remaining 20 percent
could also receive funding from
MDOT or other organizations,
he added. 4

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