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Posted on Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 11:54 a.m.

Fuller Road transit center to include modest Phase I plan

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials have both a long-term vision and a short-term goal to create a new gateway to the city along Fuller Road.

The long-term vision ties in "everything including the kitchen sink," said Eli Cooper, the city's transportation program manager. 

In the short-term, it focuses on what's feasible now.

Members of the city's project team working on the Fuller Road intermodal transit station gave an update to the City Council Monday night. They relayed news of their progress as they develop a detailed concept plan, from which a more limited Phase I project plan has evolved.

"What you see before you is a more modest facility," Cooper told council members. "It still includes the bicycle storage area. It includes an indoor bus platform area on the south portion of the building and there's also a bus waiting area internally, so that the folks that might use this facility to either access a work site or access other parts of our community would have a comfortable, first-class waiting area and transit loading area."

Tying in a commuter rail is a hope for future phases, Cooper said.

Click here to view a PDF of the drawings presented Monday night.


"The intent is to create both an identity for the train station and a very functional intermodal facility," Cooper said of the city's long-term vision. "We still believe that we have the opportunity here to link all of the modes of transportation - walking, bicycling, transit, rail, and, if you include the University of Michigan heliport, we also have air travel."

The city and University of Michigan agreed in August to partner on a $541,717 effort to come up with conceptual plans for the new transportation center. It would be located along the south side of Fuller Road, just east of East Medical Center Drive and north of the University of Michigan Hospital.

City officials anticipate an experimental commuter rail line will be up and running in late 2010, relying on the current Amtrak station on Depot Street. The city is in talks with Amtrak about relocating its services to Fuller Road. The city also is working with MDOT as a partner in the state's high-speed rail application.

"So, although not contained as part of the Phase I element, we continue to work feverishly behind the scenes with the rail program administrators to try to secure the resources to get those elements woven into the fabric of the Fuller Road station as soon as possible," Cooper said.

Cooper told council members he's looking for their input as the project team prepares to push forward its Phase I concept. He said the team will be seeking approval of the concept plan and direction to proceed with designs at an upcoming meeting.

Council members said Monday night they're impressed with the work so far.

"I'm very excited. It's looking wonderful and it incorporates so many designs and different forms of transportation," said Council member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward.

"The synergy and the timing, it seems to me, couldn't be better," said Mayor John Hieftje. "I had a conversation with the president of the university just last week on this subject, and we all seem to be moving together in the same direction."

Jim Kosteva, U-M's director of community relations, attended Monday's meeting and reaffirmed the university's support for the project. He said a recent two-day workshop incorporated a wide variety of community interests.

"The university, to date, is extremely excited and pleased with the efforts that have been put forward," he said. "We've developed a concept plan for the first phase and future phases that attempt to incorporate most all of those interests and we're excited about that. This is one of those proverbial win-win kinds of opportunities."

Cooper said he's hoping to begin construction in earnest in late 2010, with the facility in place by mid-2012 if all goes as planned.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Sun, Jan 31, 2010 : 11:36 a.m.

After railroading it from Ann Arbor to California, I saw how nice some of the train depots were. Wow. If this is and comes to fruition? This will top what I say in California. Great idea and it will be much nicer then the one next to the Gandy Dancer and less congestion. Great idea.


Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 3:16 p.m.

My input is that enrolling and educating are two very different procedures. Enrolling more students (especially out of state students) equals more money. So, yes, enrollments go up. Once enrolled, the students are piled into a massive lecture hall just to be lulled to sleep by some inept teaching assistant.

Feat of Clay

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 : 9:23 a.m.

yohan, you are a real johnny one-note on your objections to U-M. Can't wait for your input on U-M's increasing enrollment--isn't it amazing how an institution that supposedly cares not at all about education or young people continues to enroll them? What a mind-bender! Now to skip the ridiculous hyperbole, I love the idea of light rail but wonder if people are really, truly willing to give up their cars (for their work commute) to get on the train. I hope so.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 8:48 p.m.

One BIG problem with this project. IT IS NOT NEEDED! We already have an adequate train station which is paid for by the people who run the trains, NOT the city taxpayers. We already have an adequate bus station which is paid for by the people who run the buses, NOT the city taxpayers. Now the Mayor wants to transfer this financial burden of building and maintaining a mega-terminal to the taxpayers. And lets remember, the city doesn't have enough money to fund Mack pool or the Senior Center! The trouble with Mayor High Rise is that he has never seen a building project that he doesn't like. Of course UM, an institution more concerned with building parking structures than educating the young people of the State of Michigan, is thrilled to have the city provide it's employees and customers with parking at little of no cost to The Big U. And lets not forget who Hizzhoner works for. Just another UNNEEDED big building to keep the Mayor's real estate and construction buddies happy.

Alice Ralph

Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 4:08 p.m.

This is pretty ambitious. Easy to see why the excitement. Am I correctly understanding that the land is owned by the City of Ann Arbor, that it is NOT park land (although adjacent to parks), and that the UM is currently leasing the land from the City for surface parking? And the proposal is now to subsidize the UM to develop the land that they have been leasing? Or is UM subsidizing the City? Who then owns what? It would be good to have a clearer picture and more information about how this FITS fits (ouch) into UM's recently announced transportation improvement plans. And Ann Arbor's. Pretty exciting, for sure.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 3:53 p.m.

A2westside wrote, "Also, I think the city should redevelope the old city garage property on North Main into a transit station. " I'd rather see them use this space to re-open allens creek that runs thru there as part of the green space thru town.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 1:53 p.m.

Jim Kosteva: "This is one of those proverbial win-win kinds of opportunities.". Agreed. Good partnering on an innovative area improvement that will benefit many!


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 12:09 p.m.

If I'm reading the plans correctly, "Phase I" is little more than a parking structure with a bus stop under a portion of it. The demand for parking in that area originates from U Medical Center, so why should the city pay for it? If and when the commuter train moves to a platform adjacent to the parking garage, the parking garage will be useful to the general population; but until then, the University should take the financial lead on Phase I.


Tue, Oct 13, 2009 : 11:55 a.m.

I like the idea. Also, I think the city should redevelope the old city garage property on North Main into a transit station. The Ann Arbor Railroad tracks run along the property. This would perfect for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's Wally commuter rail project.