EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Since 2009, CATA has been working on the Bus Rapid Transit project, which would create bus only lanes for high capacity buses to move along Michigan Avenue, all the way down the Grand River Avenue Corridor.
The transportation authority claims, once completed, the BRT system would reduce travel time and eliminate crowding on buses and roads.
It’s been a controversial topic that’s caused a divide between CATA officials and members of the community, who oppose the plan.
In August, CATA officials listened to the public’s concerns.
Monday night, CATA held it’s first of three meetings to allow the public to comment on some of the modifications to the project’s current plan.
Five different concepts were presented in an hour-long meeting. They’re all ideas that are based on input CATA has received from the public.
Many people have expressed concerns over things like public safety and the impact of U-turns in the project’s current design.
Here’s a quick rundown of those concepts:
One plan calls for eliminating the dedicated lanes for the buses, and mixing them into traffic once the buses drive into the Meridian Township area. This will work to eliminate concerns over the medians and free flowing left turns.
Another option being considered, is putting the lanes on the sides of the curb. This option would involve some additional funding, which is more than what the current project calls for.
Another idea is what CATA is calling the “Capitol to Campus” concept. There are three different alternatives within the concept.
Some examples include: a bus route that would run to the Michigan Avenue/Grand River connection.
The other, would take the bus route onto Albert and Division Street.
A lot of people attended Monday night’s meeting to hear what CATA had to say, but like many meetings that have happened in the past, there’s still a lot of tension.
Some people said they can’t be convinced and they are against the BRT project regardless of the design.
Others said while CATA’s approach shows the public’s concerns are being considered, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.
“I was impressed that they took some alternative approaches,” Jeff Neilson said. “The problem that remains is there is no solution. I know that they say that it’s only 30 percent completed, but these are just ideas and concepts. They have such a tremendously long way to go.
“There’s nothing really concrete yet on anything. They just make a lot of assumptions here that East Lansing is going to help them, Michigan State is going to help them. Michigan State has already said they’re not thrilled with the plan,” East Lansing Resident, James Hornberger said. “The thing that really upsets me is I have the feeling that this is trying to be jammed down someone’s throat without the people having the opportunity to vote on it.”
Debbie Alexander, Assistant Executive Director for CATA, said the transportation authority is currently in the project’s environmental process.
“We are listening to the public, we are considering the impacts of their statements and we are looking for ways in which we might mitigate those,” Alexander said. “That’s an ongoing process until we get to the end of the environmental process, and even then they may say, well you’ve got four or five different ways to approach that. Let’s take that into final design and see which ones really work.”
The Federal Transportation Authority will soon be releasing its findings of CATA’S Environmental Assessment on the BRT.
In the meantime, two more meetings will take place this week:
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. at the Allen Neighborhood Center in Lansing. That’s located at 1611 E. Kalamazoo St.
On Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 there will be a meeting from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the Okemos Masonic Center. That’s located at 2175 Hamilton Rd. in Okemos.