Some news this week on the Quixotic quest of Southeast Michigan transit planners for light and commuter rail.
First, the proposed commuter line to connect the teeming metropolis of Howell (population ~10,000) with the even more teeming Ann Arbor (population ~113,000), thirty miles away, was denied federal funding for the second time:
‘Michael Benham, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority strategic planner… said there are no pending grant requests for WALLY at this time, but “there are some sources of money (AATA) needs to investigate.”‘
This remark strikes me as similar to when I say I need to start eating more vegetables. Can AATA quit wasting oxygen on this already?
In related news, Crain’s Detroit Business reports that next week we’ll find out if the Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail project will get $200 million in Federal Rail Administration funding. I remember in January of this year, when SEMCOG was saying the line could be up and running by year’s end; then, less than two months later, it backtracked and said it would instead run “only for special events beginning in October (2010).” (It’s October, by the way, and I haven’t heard anything about these special events, presumably UM football games, or the special trains that are supposed to be serving them.) Washtenaw County elected officials (namely County Commissioner/state rep-elect Jeff Irwin) responded by taking SEMCOG to the woodshed for failing to piece the necessary funding together on schedule. Right now, I’m only slightly less jaded about the prospects for this commuter service than I am about WALLY. Even if it gets federal funding, I don’t foresee the political will in the Michigan legislature to muster its share of the necessary dollars, since it hasn’t even managed to pass a budget on time for the past several years.
So as not to be a total Debbie Downer, I’ll close with some fun links: