Emerging BRT Plans to Be Presented Monday in East Lansing

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Thursday, September 29, 2016, 2:49 pm
Alice Dreger

In the wake of growing controversy, local public transportation provider CATA has stepped up efforts to explain its desire to create a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system for what is now CATA’s #1 bus route. CATA has decided to host three public presentations this coming week, including one for the East Lansing community on Monday, October 3, from 5:30-6:30 at the Hannah Community Center.

According to CATA, next week’s presentations will “focus on various modifications to the Bus Rapid Transit project that are currently being considered based on recent public input. CATA will present the pros, cons and impacts of each option; discuss any further analyses that may be required; and conduct a brief question-and-answer session.”

CATA wants people to know that “These presentations will represent a work in progress, not conclusive designs or plans.”

If funded and built as has been planned, the BRT would run for about 8 miles from the Lansing capitol to the Meridian Mall from Michigan Avenue to Grand River Avenue, almost entirely in dedicated (no-car) lanes. Several stops on the #1 line would be eliminated to speed up travel time on the buses, and boarding and de-boarding would occur on raised platforms.

Currently in downtown East Lansing, Grand River Avenue has two lanes of vehicular traffic going eastbound (on the MSU side), and three lanes going westbound (on the City side). The BRT plan has called for using parts of the greenway median and one westbound car lane to create a new traffic pattern shown here looking east:

CATA says that in downtown East Lansing, the project requires elimination of about 25% of the green median. Mature trees cut down for the project would be replaced with trees CATA says would be appropriate to the space once it encompasses the BRT. The bicycle lanes now existing on Michigan Avenue in East Lansing would be eliminated and possibly replaced by lanes in the green median there. There is no current plan for adding provisions for bike traffic along Grand River Avenue in East Lansing.

As ELi and the Lansing City Pulse has reported, CATA has been encountering some opposition on the project, including from MSU’s leadership, from the Meridian Township Board, from bicyclists, and from the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. This week, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce sent out an email encouraging its members to attend next week’s meetings.

Those in favor of the project see it as having great potential to boost the local economy, particularly along the route, to “smooth” traffic, to create a vibrant urban environment, and to encourage more people to use the bus instead of cars.

The current East Lansing City Council has not taken a position on the BRT. Technically, East Lansing’s Council has no say over the project; Michigan’s Department of Transportation and the City of Lansing own the roads on which it would be constructed. But a vote for or against by East Lansing’s City Council could impact CATA’s chances of getting federal funding for the estimated $130,000,000+ project.

In addition to Monday evening’s presentation at the Hannah Community Center, CATA will hold one on Tuesday, October 4, at the Allen Neighborhood Center (1611 E. Kalamazoo Street in Lansing), from 6:30-7:30 p.m., and Wednesday, October 5, at the Okemos Masonic Center (2175 Hamilton Road in Okemos) from 6:00-7:00 p.m.


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