Metro Council passes $87.3M improvement package

Grand Valley Metro Council approved its Transportation Improvement Program and passed a resolution that calls on the state Legislature to come up with a funding plan to fix and maintain Michigan’s roads and bridges.

The four-year TIP, which runs from FY14 through FY17, contains 155 projects worth $87.3 million. About 70 percent of that will come from various federal funding programs.

“We need to do an annual approval of these, and this is the biggest part of our budget,” said John Weiss, GVMC executive director.

There are 39 projects and programs on the TIP document for 2014, at a cost of $22.1 million. The costliest is a $2.1 million reconstruction of 44th Street from Stafford to Division avenues. East Paris Avenue will get a $1 million resurfacing job from 44th Street to Barden Drive, and another $1.1 million will go toward reconstructing Patterson Avenue from 100th to 108th avenues.

The following year, $21 million is in the TIP for 41 projects and programs. In FY16, 37 projects are listed at $23.1 million, and 38 are listed at $20.9 million for FY17.

GVMC Transportation Director Abed Itani said his department has one less staff member, so seven employees instead of eight put the TIP together. “We’re working with less staff but doing more with this process,” said Weiss.

Council members also approved the Interurban Transit Partnership’s four-year capital plan, which lists $23.4 million worth of projects for FY14. The biggest is the construction of the Amtrak station along Wealthy Street SE at a cost of $10.6 million, which will be paid for by federal dollars. In fact, federal money will pick up $20.8 million of the $23.4 million tab.

From FY15 through FY17, ITP averages about $11 million in spending each year in its capital plan.

The council will send its resolution for state transportation funding to legislators in the hope they seriously take up the matter. The document said Michigan loses $3 million each day and $1 billion each year due to the maintenance costs and wear and tear that occurs on the roads and bridges. It also said and the current gas tax is insufficient to provide the needed funds.

“It’s been approved by many members,” said Weiss before the full council voted.

Weiss said legislators have sent the governor a one-time increase of $350 million for road repair, while Gov. Rick Snyder has asked for $1.2 billion. But the council’s resolution urges lawmakers to invest $10 billion over the next 10 years to fix roads and bridges, as doing so would create 12,000 jobs and prevent 100 crash-related deaths each year.

The Metro Council welcomed Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce President Rick Baker as its newest member-at-large.

“I look forward to serving with the rest of you,” said Baker. “I’m excited to be with this organization.”

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