Smart growth? Washtenaw County residents asked to chime in on AATA's countywide transit plan
A series of five public meetings will be held in mid-May to present the plan and continue a dialogue with Washtenaw County residents.
"A great deal of research, analysis and public input has led to the development of the Smart Growth vision," AATA Board Chairman Jesse Bernstein said in a statement.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The $465 million plan to expand transit services countywide over 30 years eventually will have to get past the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. And if discussions that took place earlier this month are any indication, that might be a tough hurdle to clear.
The plan also likely will require going to voters next year with a countywide millage request and a complete reorganization of the AATA as a new countywide transit authority
Bernstein said the AATA is aware some people still have questions about the plan, and further public input opportunities will make sure as many people as possible have a chance to take part in the ongoing discussion about Washtenaw County’s transit future.
The public meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m. on:
- Monday, May 9 — Chelsea Library, McKune Room, 221 S. Main St., Chelsea
- Tuesday, May 10 — SPARK East, 215 W. Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti
- Wednesday, May 11 — Ann Arbor District Library, Multipurpose Room, 343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor
- Monday, May 16 — Dexter Library, Lower level (large side), 3255 Alpine, Dexter
- Tuesday, May 17 — Saline City Hall, 100 N. Harris St., Saline
AATA began developing the Transit Master Plan last summer. Officials said the process involved extensive public outreach, including more than 60 community meetings, workshops with 45 county leaders, more than 200 in-person interviews, and online and paper questionnaires completed by more than 2,500 residents.
The AATA has used community meetings and demographic research to determine residents’ transportation needs and to identify long-term goals. Among the challenges outlined are the growing population of aging Baby Boomers, increasing traffic congestion and the growing need among residents without cars for getting to critical destinations.
AATA CEO Michael Ford noted an overwhelming majority of residents who have provided feedback are supportive of the plan. He said the agency continues to take a hard look at the Smart Growth scenario, including funding options and ways to phase it in over 30 years.
“It’s important to remember that the Transit Master Plan will never be set in stone — it’s more of a vision of where we want to be in 30 years," Ford said in a statement, adding now that the board has voted to accept the plan, next month's public meetings are the next step in carrying forward an ongoing dialogue to hopefully make the plan a reality.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.