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Meridian Township may bail on CATA bus plan

Posted: 7:26 PM, Jul 19, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-19 23:26:22Z

Meridian Township is rethinking its position on CATA's Bus Rapid Transit project that would run down two of Mid-Michigan's busiest corridors. The board of trustees is meeting Tuesday night and is considering withdrawing it's support.

Many businesses are making their position clear, with "stop CATA's BRT" signs popping up down Grand River Avenue.

Under the proposal, CATA would add a designated bus lane down an 8 mile stretch of Michigan and Grand River Avenues. The project would connect the Capitol with Marsh Road in Meridian.

For Jeff Neilson, the road outside his autoshop would go from having a turn lane to having a bus lane. That would mean his customers would have to hook a u-turn to get to his store.

"It's going to be devestating," Neilson said. "You'd have to pull into a left hand turn lane then turn back around and come back into my business."

Neilson is concerned that will hurt his business, as well as the other stores on the corridor.

The Township say it's been hearing from more people opposing the project, so the board of trustees is considering a proposal to withdraw its support.

"CATA should be talking with us to determine what it is we would like to see in our township and not forcing something upon us," said Truestee Milton Scales.

He wants CATA to work with the township on a new, safer proposal. Scales says he would like the project to include more bus stops since the current plan eliminate nine stops, which could mean a longer walk for passengers.

But Scales say his main concern is having a designated bus lane in the middle of the road.

"Everybody has to cross the street getting on the bus and getting off the bus, that's too many dangerous opportunities there," Scales added.

It's a concern CATA's CEO Sandy Draggoo says has already been addressed.

"We've talked about that in terms of the national studies that have been done on the safety of that and we've answered those questions but we'll answer them again," Draggoo said.

She says CATA has been working on the project for seven years and did multiple studies to figure out what would be the best bus route. Draggoo added that CATA had multiple charrettes and tried to involve the community in the planning process.

If the township does decide to withdraw its support, Draggoo says the future of the project is unclear.

"I don't know what will happen," she said.

For Neilson the solution is simple, he'd rather keep traffic flowing the way it is instead.

"With our transportation system right now it works just fine and we should leave it like that," he said.