Dedicated bus lanes with premium stations along Gratiot Avenue would connect Macomb County to Detroit under a Regional Transit Authority plan heading to voters in November.
The proposal, released to the public on Tuesday, also includes an expanded local bus line, new east-west bus routes connecting Macomb to Oakland and western Wayne County, and a dedicated airport shuttle line.
Macomb County voters, along with voters in Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties, will head to the polls on Nov. 8 -- the same day they'll vote for president -- to approve a 1.2 mill property tax increase to pay for the four-county system.
Here's a breakdown of what's proposed for Macomb County:
Bus Rapid Transit along Gratiot
Central to the RTA plan are Bus Rapid Transit lines along Michigan and Woodward avenues, and, most importantly for Macomb County, Gratiot Avenue.
BRT is designed to mimic light rail without the expense of rail lines. The system is built with buses traveling in dedicated lanes to premium stations located about a mile apart. RTA's proposed stations along Gratiot include:
- M-59/Hall Road
- Mt. Clemens
- South River
- Metro Parkway
- 15 Mile
- Macomb Mall
- 12 Mile
- 10 Mile
- 9 Mile
- 8 Mile
- 7 Mile
- Outer Drive
- Eastern Market
- Downtown Detroit
"Premium" stations include feature such as level boarding, off-board ticketing, next-bus information and WiFi. Dedicated lanes are meant to improve the speed and reliability of buses running along the route.
New bus lines designed to connect communities without running through Detroit would be implemented. The so-called Cross-County Connectors would offer transit between Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. For example, "Route 15" would start at 15 Mile and Harper and run west through Troy, Birmingham, West Bloomfield Township and end in Novi.
Other cross-county routes include east-west lines along 12 Mile, 9 Mile and 8 Mile.
Another Cross-County Connector would run north-south from 23 Mile to Van Dyke in Detroit.
And a line would run along Jefferson Avenue from 15 Mile through the Grosse Pointes to Downtown Detroit.
RTA's plan includes an Airport Express route from Hayes and Hall Road west to near Gratiot in Mt. Clemens and then south and west to Detroit Metro Airport. The route would be a premium -- think Coach-style bus with higher seats and room for luggage -- with limited stops operating throughout the day.
A new local bus line along Groesbeck from 15 Mile south all the way to Gratiot in Detroit would be added. A second new local line would run from Cass and Gratiot in Mt. Clemens west along Canal and north to Hall Road and Van Dyke in Utica.
A week day, rush-hour express service from Mt. Clemens along M-59 through Rochester Hills and all the way to Pontiac and Auburn Hills would be added.
If voters approve the RTA plan, the timeline for implementing all services would start in 2017 and be completed by 2021. Here's a breakdown:
2017: Early implementation of Bus Rapid Transit along Gratiot
2018: 12 Mile Road Cross-County Connector; Local bus service along Canal
2019: 8 Mile, 9 Mile and Van Dyke Cross-County Connectors; Commuter express from Gratiot to M-59
2020: Jefferson and 15 Mile Cross-County Connectors; New local service along Dequindre
2021: Airport express service from Hall Road
In its plan, RTA is touting economic benefits to adding transit to Macomb County. Among listed benefits in the plan include:
- 14,077 jobs supported
- Approximately $1.14 billion (in 2015 dollars) added in gross regional product
- Approximately $1 billion (in 2015 dollars) growth in real personal income
- Approximately $4 rate of return per dollar investment (based on national average)
RTA is also expecting region-wide benefit that would apply to Macomb County residents and transit riders, including:
- New regional center to answer all transit questions
- New coordinate fare system with a universal fare card for easy transfers
- New and upgraded maintenance facilities
- Additional paratransit funding
- Mobility management
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