Standing Room-Only Crowd Turns Out for Woodward Transit Meeting
Officials from Berkley and Huntington Woods, public transportation users and interested citizens packed the Berkley Community Center on Monday evening to discuss the $2 million Woodward Avenue Rapid Transit Alternatives Analysis.
A standing room-only crowd turned out Monday evening at the Berkley Community Center to learn about an ongoing study of public transportation options along Woodward Avenue and to help shape the process.
Officials from Berkley and Huntington Woods, public transit users and interested citizens packed the open house that focused on the $2 million Woodward Avenue Rapid Transit Alternatives Analysis.
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The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments project seeks to develop a transportation plan along 27 miles of Woodward Avenue from Detroit to Pontiac. The 11 communities involved are Detroit, Highland Park, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Huntington Woods, Royal Oak, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills and Pontiac, along with the Michigan Suburbs Alliance and the Woodward Avenue Action Association.
A variety of options such as bus rapid transit and light rail have been considered as part of the study, according to SEMCOG.
Peter Dalinowski of Detroit, who rode his bike and took the bus to get to the open house, said he'd prefer to see mixed-use public transit that is more bicycle-friendly.
"I don't drive. I choose not drive," he said of the experiment that turned into a lifestyle after he saw how much calmer his life was without an automobile. For example, he said, instead of grabbing the keys to run out for one item at a time, he finds himself grouping his errands into a single trip.
Dalinowski, whose daughters live in Berkley but visit him on the weekend, keeps a car for emergencies and says living without it when his girls visit is limiting.
"It's a big thing in our lives," he said. "(Improved public transit) would change my life dramatically."
Dalinowski also sees a broader benefit to having better transportation options along the Woodward Avenue corridor.
"Every major city renaissance in the last 30 to 40 years," has been tied to transit, he said. "I don't think a lot of people in southeast Michigan realize that."
However, it is not a point that has been lost on Darlene Rothman, executive director of the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Rothman said businesses and medical offices in Berkley and Huntington Woods would benefit from a regional public transit system that would bring more people from throughout Metro Detroit to the Woodward corridor.
City Commissioner Jeff Jenks, who serves as Huntington Woods' liaison on the project, echoed Rothman's sentiments.
A bus rapid transit system would make it financially feasible for workers to get to far-flung jobs and for students to spend their money on tuition instead of driving, he said. Jenks also noted that a line along Woodward would give riders access to schools including Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan State University's Detroit Center and Oakland Community College in Royal Oak, as well as a slew of medical sites in Detroit, Royal Oak and Pontiac.
A bus rapid transit system that would travel along dedicated lanes and utilize coordinated stop lights would be much less expensive than a light rail line and could be operational within just a few years, Jenks said.
The goal of the alternatives analysis, which is slated to wrap up in 2014, is to create a proposal that the impacted communities and other stakeholders can support; once a plan has been selected, it will be subject to an environmental review process before the preliminary engineering phase would begin, according to SEMCOG.
The meeting Monday was one in a series that includes the following dates, according to SEMCOG.
- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4
SEMCOG, 535 Griswold St., Suite 300, Detroit, MI 48226
For Detroit business community and downtown employees
- 4-6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 4
Detroit Police Central District Station, 7310 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
For Detroit and Highland Park residents
- 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 6
Baldwin Public Library, 300 W. Merrill St., Birmingham, MI 48009
For Birmingham and Royal Oak residents
- 4-6 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 11
Detroit Palmer Park Police Station, 12th Precinct, 1441 W. 7 Mile Road, Detroit, MI 48203
For Detroit and Highland Park residents
- 6-8 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 12
Ferndale Public Library, 222 E. Nine Mile Road, Ferndale, MI 48220
For Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge residents
- 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 15
Bowen Senior Citizens Center, 52 Bagley St., Pontiac, MI 48341
For Pontiac residents