Wednesday, April 04, 2007

aadts and the tommorow that never comes

You're never going to believe this, but the Ann Arbor to Detroit rail project opening has been put off until at least 2008. Yes, over the last ten years you've been let-down repeatedly over the possibility of a decent mass transit connection to the airport and the city. Yes, it seemed like something might have come of it this time. No, it probably won't ever be completed if this uninspired group of foot-dragging bureaucrats continues to hold the reins.

"Amtrak officials are seeking meetings with officials of three freight railroads"
"A lot will depend on what the freight companies are willing to allow and how much it will cost to use their tracks"
"SEMCOG is trying to find out if some federal money for studying transit between Ann Arbor and Detroit can be used to help pay for the proposed contract service"
The AADTS website hasn't been updated since December 06. Until somebody at SEMCOG grows a real set of ovaries and starts MAKING this happen, we can look forward to sitting on the edge of our seats and biting our nails while waiting for the next announcement of delay on this project.
"We've identified a model that we would like to see," Palombo said. "Now we have to see what the reality is."
Never a truer word spoken.

Please contribute more optomistic perspectives in the comments.


Murph said...

In my work capacity, I have met with officials from Amtrak, SEMCOG, Sen. Stabenow's office, and various other entities in the past few months. I think your assessment of the situation is unfair and incorrect.

Sure, I think SEMCOG could afford to be a little more communicative, and let the public know what's going on and what they can do to help in a more timely fashion. Sure, the agencies handling this potato in the past haven't done a lot to move it forward. (But then, how much do you expect CATA, Lansing's local transit agency, to do to move forward an A2 - Detroit project?)

Having met with the various bureaucrats involved around here, though, I can say they're hardly "foot-dragging" or "uninspired". Just because going over, under, around or through barriers and roadblocks thrown up by federal agencies doesn't happen instantaneously doesn't mean that there aren't people furiously working on it. Some of the SEMCOG folks in particular that I've talked to act as though they'll get a train running if they have to go out and drag it down the tracks themselves with their teeth.

It's been ten years of mostly no action - the only reason you've got targets to pick on right now is because they're actually doing something. Chill out.

Anonymous said...

Regionally, we've been failing on rapid transit for much longer than ten years.

SEMCOG may talk a good game and Carmine Polombo might 'say' the right things. However, when it actually comes to doing something - even something relatively simple and inexpensive - they can't seem to get it done.

Take the study results released last fall as an example. They botched that study, bringing it in way late and far off the target in terms of costs. They overestimated the costs of building and operating by overbuilding the track improvements and overscheduling the trains. Also, they wasted gobs of public money doing so. What a pitiful planning agency.

The money is there to do great transit. We spend hundreds of millions annually on new highway pavement. We could build this AA Detroit train with just the money it takes to resurface bridges in SE Michigan every year. Have you seen the big blue bridge on I-94? Compare the costs of that ugly thing to the train. (Incidentally, when they built that very expensive bridge they hampered the ability to use the median of I-94 for transit).

I understand Murph's perspective as well, but when a planning agency has a long track record of failure and structural problems to boot - I say give 'em the boot.

Anonymous said...

Regionally, we've been failing on rapid transit for much longer than ten years.



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