Grand Rapids stands to lose entire system unless investment is made now
Caroline MacGregor February 13, 2013 | WGVU Right now 63% of Grand Rapids Streets are in
such bad shape that the number will rise to 94% in nine years’ time if action
is not taken quickly.
Suzanne Schultz is the head of the Sustainable Streets Task Force. For over a year the task
force has met twice a month looking at road conditions, assessing how the
situation deteriorated so quickly and finding funding sources, and solutions. Schultz
says state and local investment is needed now to save the system.
“When you go from good or fair to poor you hit significantly different numbers as far as miles you can maintain, the magnitude is completely different when it comes to what you need to get done to rebuild a street.”
affordability part comes in using the state as a partner and Schultz hope the
governor will find a way to fund local governments but admits the problem is so
large that state money alone won’t fix the problem.
“The task force has settled on a reasonable number of 70% good condition which compares to MDOT which has an 80-95 percent expectation for their roads in good condition so they did not want to be over zealous but wanted to find a good range which spoke to the quality of life of the community and something the community could afford.”
force suggests a local commitment which includes short and long term solutions.
Among those - a property tax proposal for a 2.25 millage request for city of
Grand Rapids property owners. The other alternative is to maintain the current
income tax rate of .2 percent voters elected to increase two years ago which
expires in 2015.
The idea of a Vehicle
Miles tax or user fee is being looked at but further study is needed to
determine if that idea is feasible.
recommendations also include: A Vital Streets approach for the city’s economy. Public
right-of-way must accommodate cars, freight, transit, bikes and pedestrians to
increase access to businesses, schools, and medical services.
Force is recommending new local investment of $9 million per year. A series of
focus groups and citizen input sessions will be held before the task force makes
final recommendations by the spring.
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