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CATA officials talk bus rapid transit plan at council meeting

March 18, 2014

The rapid transit adjustment would include a travel lane to accommodate multi-cab buses and likely eliminate certain routes.

The potential bus system would run down the Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue corridor and replace the Route 1 bus. Unlike the current CATA vehicles, the rapid transit system would use large multi-cab buses often seen in large cities such as Chicago or New York City.

So far, the plan includes boarding on either side and 28 stations along the corridor instead of the usual bus stops.

If it is approved, the project could begin in 2016.

The prospect of the system consumed the majority of East Lansing’s City Council meeting on Tuesday.

Debbie Alexander, CATA’s assistant executive director and rapid transit project manager, gave a special presentation on the project during the meeting.

With the buses having their own lane, the flow of regular traffic might not be as congested in some areas and the buses would not get stuck in traffic jams.

Alexander expressed the issue of a traffic backup that occurred on the day of the University of Michigan versus MSU football game.

The large overflow of traffic from the game caused an extensive amount of backups, leaving CATA buses unable to move freely throughout the area on game day.

Funding has not yet been allocated for the project.

“We will take many pots of money - state money, private money, grants - to fund this project,” Alexander said at the meeting . “We are progressively looking for funding to pay for this.”

CATA will host an East Lansing charrette March 19-23 to evaluate environmental impacts of the bus rapid transit project and include community members in the planning of the potential system.

The public is welcome to attend the five-day charrette, which will be kicked off 6 p.m. Wednesday at East Lansing High School and include discussions for potential system design.

During the council meeting, former East Lansing City Councilmember Don Power said he is supportive of community members attending the charrettes.

But said he was unhappy with the way the city and CATA have gone about it, commenting that he was “really tired of government where an organization makes a decision of what we want without talking” to the community first.

Alexander acknowledged there are obstacles to overcome before the project can move forward.

“This is not a done deal,” she said. “CATA wants to make sure that we work through all of the issues that have surfaced.”

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