Detroit area transit authority moves to governor

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Relief from some traffic congestion could soon be on the way in the Detroit area.

Michigan House lawmakers voted 57-50 to approve a package of Senate bills that would create a regional transit authority in the southeast portion of the state. Specifically, it would affect Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw counties.

The package now moves to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk for his signature. The governor made a regional transit authority in southeast Michigan a priority late this year. He recommends using $250,000 in transportation funds to cover the initial startup costs.

The main bill – SB909 – would create a new regional transit board to coordinate public transportation in the region. Another bill, SB911, would require voters in the affected areas to approve funding for the project through an additional vehicle registration tax or a special assessment.

Supporters say something must be done to fix a local transit system that is fragmented. They note that the federal government has indicated that the state could be in line for $25 million in aid if a regional transit board is created.

The money would be used to help build a light-rail line in downtown Detroit.

Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, has said bus and rail systems would meet the needs of residents and expand business opportunities.

“As we’ve seen in communities across the country, building an RTA will be a catalyst for job creation, private investment and economic growth,” Johnson said in a recent press release.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan, click here.

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