A new transportation system along the Grand River and Michigan Avenue corridor is on the community discussion board in March and April. ?
The potential bus system would run down the Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue corridor and replace the Route 1 bus for Capital Area Transit Authority, or CATA. ? Unlike the current CATA vehicles, the rapid transit system would use large multi-cab buses, which are often seen in large cities such as Chicago and New York City.
If approved, the project could begin in 2016.
CATA will host an East Lansing charrette March 19-23 to evaluate environmental impacts and include community members in the planning of the potential system.
The charrette is a series of workshops and presentation sessions that will educate the community and hear their opinions about developing the system. The meetings will take place in various spots in the city, including East Lansing High School, the Michigan Energy Options Building and the International Center.
“It’s not just a public meeting, it’s actually workshops and sessions where we help people really express their opinions and help decide how things should be developed,” Tri-County Regional Planning Commission Director Susan Pigg said. “It’s not just giving them a say, it’s inviting them to participate in the process for it.”
Engineering sophomore Naveed Nur said the charrette is a great opportunity for the community to be included in such an impactful project. He plans to attend one of the sessions to share his feedback.
Nur frequently uses the Route 1 bus to get to class and to social events since he lives in Brody Neighborhood. He said he believes increasing the efficiency of the route is important, but the construction needed to complete this project is unnecessary.
“Changing the whole entire infrastructure for this bus route only is foolish and expensive,” Nur said. “This situation can be handled simply by increasing the number of buses in the busy hours.”
The buses would board on both sides, rather than one, and would run in a designated bus-only lane. Bus fares would be paid prior to boarding the bus and there would be 28 stations along the corridor rather than bus stops.
It is still unclear whether the roads will need to be widened or re-striped to accommodate for the bus-only lanes.
The new system could offer a time advantage by affecting traffic signals, said Debbie Alexander, CATA Assistant Executive Director and the manager on the project.
“It is proposed that buses would have signal priority, which means that when the bus approaches the stoplight, it would advance to green or if it is a green light preparing to go to a yellow, the green would be extended long enough to get the bus vehicle through the intersection,” Alexander said.
Though funding for the project has not yet been approved, CATA is moving forward and hoping to have the environmental assessment completed by the fall, Alexander said.
“We consider the corridor to be the spine of this region and it’s a very critical economic development corridor, so it’s the perfect place for us to bring an investment of infrastructure that will facilitate more efficient movement and really change the character of the corridor,” Alexander said.