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GRDadof3

Grand Rapids Urban Redevelopment Roundtable

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New tools for urban development

Round Table Participants:

Micheal Devries of Ed Devries Properties

John Green of Elevation Group

Andy Guy of MLUI and RapidGrowthMedia

Jay Fowler, Executive Director, DDA

Terry Sanford, Nederveld Inc

Mark Fellows and B Candace Beeke of Business Review WM

I'm not going to post any excerpts because I'd like people to read the whole thing. The expanded version will be out next week apparently. Some very interesting challenges to building future new infill downtown, including land costs and parking requirements.

John Green: Supporter of Light Rail. :thumbsup:

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Yes---- I thought this article was a great read. I was not aware of how much M-6 cost...WOW!

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The article was good to read. Yea, I didn't realize how much the cost of M6 was. There is a lot you can do with that amount of money..... I think it is a good idea that they have these round table discussions about things going on in the area. I hope they continue to have these and that they will post some/all the conversations like they have here.

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Great article. My Green does seem to articulate many of the UP views quite well. A good comment regarding M6. What if that 1.4B pricetag was invested in light rail? Where would GR be today? Would there be some greater opportunities for corporate moves DT with light rail being available?

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Very good discussion about M6. That is why money allocated to this kind of construction needs to be reallocated to more sustainable projects, whether that means changing laws or whatever. We can not continue to waste are financial resources in this manner.

I especially like Devries' comment about this not being an issue of the suburban residents vs. the city residents. We are all in this together. What is good for the city of Grand Rapids will be good for the sub-urban and more importantly the rural areas. A strong urban center, means a stronger metropolitan area.

On the southern fringes, where M6 was constructed, there was a faction of people who desired to maintain rural character. Rural character can not be maintained when a highway like M6 is built with all the interchanges, which spur development. Meanwhile our city continues to struggle to get commercial development, where it would appear that it is desired (there is no one who wants to maintain rural character in the city).

We can not have good rural places without good urban places, they are linked.

The M6 construction and any construction similar to it degrades not only our urban centers and small towns, but also our farms and nature. The only thing that this kind of construction effectively enables is sprawl. Just like Green said.

Knowing most of the people on this roundtable, I would say that at least a few of them are sympathetic to the same things many of the UPers are sympathetic to.

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On the southern fringes, where M6 was constructed, there was a faction of people who desired to maintain rural character. Rural character can not be maintained when a highway like M6 is built with all the interchanges, which spur development. Meanwhile our city continues to struggle to get commercial development, where it would appear that it is desired (there is no one who wants to maintain rural character in the city).

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The article was good to read. Yea, I didn't realize how much the cost of M6 was. There is a lot you can do with that amount of money..... I think it is a good idea that they have these round table discussions about things going on in the area. I hope they continue to have these and that they will post some/all the conversations like they have here.

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With the M-6 in place, where else would one look to build highways in the metro area? It seems like a West Belt Line wouldn't be terribly useful. Is Grand Rapids pretty much built-out in terms of highways aside from reconstruction and maintenance? It seems like the next push would have to be for rail if only because there are already highways in place and once those fill up there will be nowhere left to build. It would take a whole lot of growth for the metro area to require an outer-outer ring of highways.

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With the M-6 in place, where else would one look to build highways in the metro area? It seems like a West Belt Line wouldn't be terribly useful. Is Grand Rapids pretty much built-out in terms of highways aside from reconstruction and maintenance? It seems like the next push would have to be for rail if only because there are already highways in place and once those fill up there will be nowhere left to build. It would take a whole lot of growth for the metro area to require an outer-outer ring of highways.

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A northeastern loop from I96 / M6 to Greenville and back over to US 131 would seem like the next "logical" step.

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With the M-6 in place, where else would one look to build highways in the metro area? It seems like a West Belt Line wouldn't be terribly useful. Is Grand Rapids pretty much built-out in terms of highways aside from reconstruction and maintenance? It seems like the next push would have to be for rail if only because there are already highways in place and once those fill up there will be nowhere left to build. It would take a whole lot of growth for the metro area to require an outer-outer ring of highways.

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With the M-6 in place, where else would one look to build highways in the metro area? It seems like a West Belt Line wouldn't be terribly useful. Is Grand Rapids pretty much built-out in terms of highways aside from reconstruction and maintenance? It seems like the next push would have to be for rail if only because there are already highways in place and once those fill up there will be nowhere left to build. It would take a whole lot of growth for the metro area to require an outer-outer ring of highways.

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I have been told by a very reliable source that MDOT isn't always the problem, The preserve first approach taken by Gloria Jeff when she was head of MDOT is coming under criticism by the Federal Highway people at the region who are insisting that the State needs to build more lanes and more capacity, and not concentrate on preservation.

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[i have been told by a very reliable source that MDOT isn't always the problem, The preserve first approach taken by Gloria Jeff when she was head of MDOT is coming under criticism by the Federal Highway people at the region who are insisting that the State needs to build more lanes and more capacity, and not concentrate on preservation.

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MDOT may not be the only problem, but they certainly are an impediment to trying to create better places. I have set in enough meetings with these folks to know that.

They have standards and these standards do not mesh with creating quality places. The standards are set up to do one thing - to move cars as quickly, as efficiently and as safely as possible. Everything else is a very distant, or even non-existent, priority. Basically they make the assumption that drivers are idiots and should not be required to think and that informs their design.

The thought of contextual solutions to this over-arching mission is a joke, because there really are not any. That was all just lip service.

On a bigger scale, but under this same mandate of moving vehicles, quickly, efficiently and safely as possible, we have the concept of increasing lane size, increasing number of lanes, straightening out movements and separating any potential conflicting situations into simple, separated situations, equally more pavement for your driving pleasure.

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The point is that we should not build anymore highways. Minimally maintain what is there. Invest in transit.

As long as we have the entrenched interests of MDOT, we will have people who think we need new highways.

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You seem to have a very anti-highway view in general though which I disagree with. Highways are an important part of our transportation network, and will continue to be with or without mass transit.

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In GRTP's defense (and maybe I'm biased because I know who he is), when you are trying to plan and design great places for people to live, work, play and go to school, yet the constant and never-ending impediment to designing a great 'sense of place" is the overriding requirements for cars, traffic and parking, which seem to trump everything else that's good and holy, I can imagine it gets pretty frustrating.

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Thanks for saying what I've been thinking.

From MDOT"s website "Michigan has a total of 120,256 miles of paved roadway (9,716 miles of state trunkline, 89,755 miles of county roads, and 20,785 miles of city and village streets).". That means MDOT controls only 8% of the road miles in MI. Counties and cities can build anything they want as long as they do not use federal highway dollars. If they use federal money on a road, the highway authority needs to follow Federal standards. MDOT does the review for the Feds.

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MDOT quick fact:

When I worked there last summer one of the engineers I worked with said that they have a great safety record on their roads, something like lowest number of fatalities per mile ~edit:[(or passengers per mile, or vehicles trips traveled per mile- something like that you get the point). It may be thought of as a twist on the truth based on their usage compared to other roads, but it mades sense that it was legitimate at the time I heard it.] Most of the fatalities occur on less well maintained rural county roads.

I am not sure of the validity of that :dontknow:, but it makes sense.

The only people I know personally who were involved in or were a fatality in an accident were on county roads.

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I can believe that 100%. I HAVE to use unimproved county roads to get to my home, and at night, they are SCARY. No posted speed limit, so it's technically 45MPH but many go over that, it's dirt/gravel mixture, has large ruts and holes that make asphalt potholes look like pebbles, large ditches on either side, no markings as to where the middle is, and very rarely do you see any markings indicating the location of the sides of the roads. Typically, you drive straight down the middle. I've nearly hit others head-on at 45 at the crest of hills even in the daytime, because we were both overlapping slightly in the middle. You don't even want to try a situation like that at night.. swerving off to the side as a large truck with brights barrels down the road at you (doesn't even need to be a hill) as you cross your fingers hoping you'll slide between the invisible ditch that can swallow vehicles whole and the speeding truck.. also hoping you won't hit a rut and bounce towards either one of them.

And I'm describing these roads as they are in summer. Add snow and ice...

Heck right now just going 35MPH I slide all over the road from thick mud and giant ruts created outside people's driveways who drive giant trucks that literally rip the road apart.

Oh, and did I mention electric fences along the roads just past the ditch in case you do manage to clear the ditch?

I can't tell you how many near-deaths I've had out here, and I only have to drive a 2-mile stretch of these.

So yeah, that fact honestly does not surprise me at all.

Oh yes, there's also a spot on a road I no longer use to get to my house that actually curves slightly (Maybe 5

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Last year in Three Rivers during a design charrette, MDOT was engaged because the they have jurisdiction over the "business route" the snakes through the historic downtown. Right now this business route has parallel parking. The business owners want diagonal parking and there is enough physical space to enable it. After a nice presentation by the MDOT people on context sensitive street design, the shop owners asked their question and they were quickly denied because it would not be safe.

This year we are working on trying to make a downtown in a city that really doesn't have one, because M-XX cuts through it, basically making a barren wasteland. We have shown MDOT our concepts and they are fine with them as long as we do not have on street parking, do not have canopy trees, do not use high back curbs (because some jackass might fall asleep behind the wheel and hurt himself if the curbs are not the rolled variety), keep everything a certain distance from the ROW, keep access and crossings pretty much as they are and not introduce any movements, accesses, or interactions that might be confusing to the driver and cause them to think!

I got a bunch more storys just like these and while they only control a small segment of roads, MDOT is not conducive to placemaking, but then again neither are most of the county road commissions or the federal standards. To give MDOT a pass on this just because they have safe roads is ridiculuous. They are intellectually lazy and unwilling to try anything new. We all know that building more and bigger roads is not the answer, but yet that still seems to be their mantra.

Am I biased, you bet. I am not a proponent of just accepting letting traffic engineers design our public spaces. Highways (in all shapes and sizes) have decimated our cities and ruined our farms, by enabling sprawl. They, along with zoning, have essentially put us where we are today.

And what does this mean?.......

I can believe that 100%. I HAVE to use unimproved county roads to get to my home, and at night, they are SCARY. No posted speed limit, so it's technically 45MPH but many go over that, it's dirt/gravel mixture, has large ruts and holes that make asphalt potholes look like pebbles, large ditches on either side, no markings as to where the middle is, and very rarely do you see any markings indicating the location of the sides of the roads. Typically, you drive straight down the middle. I've nearly hit others head-on at 45 at the crest of hills even in the daytime, because we were both overlapping slightly in the middle. You don't even want to try a situation like that at night.. swerving off to the side as a large truck with brights barrels down the road at you (doesn't even need to be a hill) as you cross your fingers hoping you'll slide between the invisible ditch that can swallow vehicles whole and the speeding truck.. also hoping you won't hit a rut and bounce towards either one of them.

And I'm describing these roads as they are in summer. Add snow and ice...

Heck right now just going 35MPH I slide all over the road from thick mud and giant ruts created outside people's driveways who drive giant trucks that literally rip the road apart.

Oh, and did I mention electric fences along the roads just past the ditch in case you do manage to clear the ditch?

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MDOT is not conducive to placemaking, but then again neither are most of the county road commissions or the federal standards. To give MDOT a pass on this just because they have safe roads is ridiculuous. They are intellectually lazy and unwilling to try anything new. We all know that building more and bigger roads is not the answer, but yet that still seems to be their mantra.

The one size fits all, the program that MDOT likes to follow, leads to sh*tty places.

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Last year in Three Rivers during a design charrette, MDOT was engaged because the they have jurisdiction over the "

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