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Posted on Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 12:12 p.m.

AATA gets $3.8 million in federal grants to help expand transit services in Ann Arbor

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has been awarded two separate federal grants totaling $3.8 million, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced.

About $2.6 million of that will help fund the Reimagine Washtenaw project, designed to increase transit service frequency on Washtenaw Avenue, while $1.2 million will help fund the Ann Arbor Connector project to study advanced transit options in the city.

AATA officials could not be reached for comment, but a news release from Levin's office offered the following descriptions of the projects:


Carl Levin

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Debbie_Stabenow_US_Senator_Senate.jpg

Debbie Stabebow

ReImagine Washtenaw

This project was selected on a competitive basis through the FY 2011 Bus Livability Program. Reimagine Washtenaw is a program jointly developed by the four jurisdictions in the corridor (the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township, and Ypsilanti Township), the transit operator, the Michigan Department of Transportation, and Washtenaw County. ... As part of this larger effort, this project will purchase clean diesel buses with hybrid-electric components to increase bus service in this corridor.

Ann Arbor Connector

This project was selected on a competitive basis through the FY 2011 Alternatives Analysis Program. The study will examine transit alternatives in the 8.5-mile crescent-shaped corridor extending from northeast Ann Arbor through the University of Michigan (UM) North and Central Campus, through the UM South Campus to Briarwood Mall near I-94. The study area incorporates two “Signature Transit Corridors” (the Northeast and the South) that were identified to focus new development and support a higher density of land use without generating the need for additional roadway improvements. The signature corridors are intended to improve access to major activity centers while complementing Ann Arbor’s goals to be a walkable and livable community. The study area also provides connectivity between the UM campuses, with downtown Ann Arbor, the traditional civic, economic, and cultural heart of the community, located just west of the Central Campus.

The grants are part of 11 announced this week for Michigan transportation projects. For the full list of projects, visit

Levin and Stabenow said in a statement the projects were selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation on a competitive basis.

"These grants will create jobs and provide Michiganians across the Southeast Michigan with upgraded public transportation options," Levin said. "These funds will support environmentally friendly projects and are solid investments in future growth. These grants will allow transit agencies to improve the customer experience and reduce their environmental impact."

Stabenow shared similar thoughts.

"Many families depend upon public transportation to shop and to get to class or to work," she said. "In these tough economic times and with gas prices taking more of a bite out of family budgets, these projects will go a long way in making transportation more affordable."

Ann Arbor officials heard the findings of the initial feasibility study for the Ann Arbor Connector project earlier this week. The study recommends bus rapid transit, light rail, streetcars and an elevated system such as a monorail as options to meet the city's future transportation needs.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 10:57 p.m.

That's wonderful news! I'm sure that money will not prevent the planned price increase on the A-ride program for the disabled and the elderly. And that's coming on the heels of the last price increase they instituted two years ago. So go ahead with your ambitious plans of expansion with taxpayer money while our most needy and dependent citizens get screwed. Bravo!


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Two years is "on the heels of" - I wish the price of gas would stay the same for two days, let alone 2 weeks. Riders only pay about 16 percent of the cost of the bus system. The rest is tax money.

David Cahill

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

The benefits of these projects are dubious, as Vivienne so cogently points out. However, these grants represent our tax dollars coming back from Washington. The money will be spent here. That fact makes the grants a definite win.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Mr. Cahill- While the tax money may be coming back, 40 percent of what the government is spending - yes, 40 percent is borrowed. Your grandchildren will pay for this effort, maybe your great grandchildren.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 12:49 a.m.

I'm sure our grandparents felt the same way about our future. The difference is that they didn't assume it would be "too late" if they allowed us to determine it on our own. We are just spending money, willy-nilly, without a care in the world. Do you think our grandkids would rather have an economy or a pretty train to look at as it rusts away in a shed, unused for decades?

hut hut

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 10:11 p.m.

With that kind of thinking we would have never completed shore to shore rail or the interstate highway system.The folks who lack vision would have told us that it cost too much. Covered wagons are so much cheaper.

hut hut

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 10:06 p.m.

Because by then it could very well be too late and even cost more than preparing for the future now. It will cost many times more to do then what we are able to do today.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 10:01 p.m.

How 'bout we let our grandchildren decide how to spend their money. We had that opportunity ourselves. And we took it and much, much more.

hut hut

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 9:33 p.m.

It's very possible that our grand and great grand children will need, want and use improved public transportation that a few of us would deprive them of with short sighted dogmatic thinking. They might even thank those of us who are able to see beyond our noses and wallets for thinking ahead. When generations to come are desperate for NEEDED public trans improvements I hope they aren't a stingy and short sighted as some folks seem to be.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

That is precisely the attitude that has led to our country spending our grandchildren's future.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Would you naysayers rather the money went elsewhere like the FL Governor did? The money did move elsewhere to the chagrin of his citizens and their need for infrastructure improvements.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.

Yet another win from Obama, Stabenow, and Levin for our area and MI. Too bad slick Rick can't do anything to add value in areas like clean energy, mass transit, infrastructure repairs, jobs, or much else actually. Unemployment is up every month of his administration while on the other hand we've had a string of recent wins from the Democrats: stadium bridge replacement funding, rail line purchase, toxic river cleanup projects throughout the state, and now the AATA grant.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

Ah, no that was Granholms last year. Check the dates.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 12:58 p.m.

Rob - According the Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Over the year, 25 states experienced statistically significant changes in employment, 24 of which were increases. The largest increase occurred in Texas (+253,200), followed by California (+171,300), New York (+83,400), Ohio (+80,300), and Michigan (+79,800)" So since Governor Snyder came to office in January, at least 1 month had to be positive.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 6:48 a.m.

Ask Sen Hatch about Raser the geothermal clean energy company that e and the repubs supported that ended up failing in Utah if you're so fascinated by Solyndra, which started out as a Bush project by the way. Ah, slick long shall we give him to have a success on something?


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 5:39 a.m.

Ahh, yes the famous Stadium bridge. Where is that money again?? Clean energy? Solyndra ring a bell? Mass transit? Have you looked at SMART or AATA's budget? It's ill. Rail line purchase....yeah cause that is going to do so much good! I love how shortsighted everyone is. Rick can't clean up after all of Jenny's mess that fast.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

So long as there is a firm accounting of where and how the money is spent.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

Carl Levin is the man...all you naysayers will be left behind when our new green economy gets going...ostriches are more enlightened.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

Can you say Solyndra?

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

It's too bad this is such a political agenda rather than one that would actually benefit the city. Politics often conjures up extreme concepts like "wouldn't it be nice to pack millions of people in a few city blocks and eliminate the need for automobiles." In reality, Ann Arbor is never going to be Manhattan. And most of us don't *want* to live in a community that purposely makes automobile travel more difficult. If I wanted to live in Manhattan, I'd move to Manhattan. Unfortunately, Carl Levin has met the enemy, and it is an automobile.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

It's not that hard. Manhattan did something Ann Arbor will never do: it spent some money synchronizing the traffic lights. All you have to do is go to a corner and wait for the light. Despite the vast number of cars on the street, most people do not own cars. The population density actually supports mass transit. Ours doesn't, and that's not something you can legislate.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 12:54 p.m.

Go to Manhattan and try to cross the street, then tell me the density has eliminated the need for automobiles. :-)


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

It's good that they're going to be spending our children's and grandchildren's money, because I don't see their tax increase passing anytime soon.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

It is worth noting that the Connector study grant is for just that - more study. I hope that the Reimagining Washtenaw grant will, as stated, allow the AATA to buy more buses to support the increased service to Ypsilanti that has already been announced. The benefits for the Connector signature routes are disingenuously stated. If implemented, this system would involve a substantial construction project that would alter the current roadways in dramatic ways. For example, the system would implement either monorail, overhead gondolas, light rail, or specialized bus rapid transit corridors. These would either displace or expand current roadways, including a major route down State Street (including the downtown portion). Saying that it would provide transportation &quot;without generating the need for additional roadway improvements&quot; is hard to defend. The main force behind this huge investment and reordering of the Ann Arbor landscape is the high impact of UM traffic. I've described some of the early discussion in my blog post of a couple of years ago, <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. The Connector system might make denser development along its path more attractive, but I question whether it would make for a &quot;more livable city&quot;, just a more intensively developed one.


Sat, Oct 15, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Vivienne, To answer a question or point mentioned in your thesis, the U-M bus system is open to everybody, you need not be affiliated with U-M to utilize the System. Implications indicate that AATA will be operating any Transit service that becomes a reality of the Connector Study, thus would continue to be open to the Public. The U-M bus system would just slowly cease to exist as the Connector study becomes a reality.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Oh, goodie, your tax dollars at work. AATA has a 84% operating subsidy. Now they get free capital too. &quot;Free Money&quot; = Tax money borrowed from our grandchildren and great grandchildren.


Fri, Oct 14, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

Ann Arbor has horrendous parking problems and more mass transit nedeed to alleviate this.