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CATA-Led Corridor Study along MI Ave and Grand River


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The Capital Area Transportation Authority in Lansing, MI, is leading a coalition of agencies, municipalities and community organizations in evaluating long-term multimodal enhancement options along the 7.1 mile stretch of Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue between the Capitol and Meridian Mall. The study is the first phase of one or many projects that will improve transportation options in this stretch.

I say 'one or many' because we really do not know what the final outcome will be. The study will be looking at all modes of transportation in the corridor; including biking, walking, automotive, and transit.

The improvements on the corridor will be made to increase mobility for persons along the corridor. We will look at everything from safety to land use to congestion and traffic counts to see what can be done better. The study will also pay attention to opportunities for economic development along the corridor.

The overriding motivation behind this study is the importance of this corridor to our region. With the state capital, Sparrow Hospital, MSU, Meridian Mall, and everything in between in the study area, the vitality of the corridor affects not only our local region, but has state, national and international implications as well.

From the transportation side, there are many reasons to study this corridor further. First among these is the corridor's high transit ridership. With over 1.7 million trips on Route 1 alone, this corridor is one of the most-served in the Midwest (with 10-15 minute service for much of the day), but also one of the highest-traveled in a year.

Additionally, the corridor has an average daily traffic count (ADT) of up to 28,000 vehicles per day, which is the among the highest-traveled non-highway routes in our region.

CATA is especially interested because of a 2005 Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA). The study found that Route 1 (along the corridor) carries over 10% of the trips on Grand River Avenue, and recommended conducting a more in-depth transit study.

MDOT recommended that, rather than concentrating only on transit improvements, the study should be of all transportation options in the corridor, including transit, walking, biking, and automobile.

The study is being funded entirely through a federal grant to CATA. As the team leader, CATA has assembled a group of government officials, heads of local organizations such as LEAP and the Lansing Chamber, state and regional officials such as the Ingham County Road Commission and MDOT, to study this corridor.

If you want more information, check out our 'interim' website at www.migrtrans.org or on facebook. A new website that doesn't look home-made will be up and runnning in less than a week's time.

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  • 5 months later...

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As I have mentioned before here at Urban Planet-Lansing, the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Boulevard corridor is screaming to be 1] a Phase One BRT Corridor and 2] a Phase Two Lightrail Corridor <once/if population density along corridor warrants>. Such action would support another notion I have mentioned before wherein Lansing - being Michigan's Capital situated midway between its two metro areas of Grand Rapids and Detroit on the I-96 Corridor - needs to add the additional economic feather to its cap of being Michigan's central transit hub by linking the above Michigan/Grand River BRT concept to an expanded CATA Center that also houses Mid Michigan's station for an I-96 corridor commuter rail (like Metra trains in Chicago) that would link to Central Station in downtown Grand Rapids and to Rosa Parks Station in downtown Detroit. THIS WOULD SOLIDIFY AND STRENGTHEN LANSING, GRAND RAPIDS and DETROIT INCREDIBLY.

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  • 8 months later...

Looks like they are pushing BRT:

Lansing-area corridor proposal envisions "bus rapid transit" system

Susan Vela • [email protected] • November 10, 2010

After more than a year of discussion, local transportation experts have come up with a $194 million solution to ease congestion along the eight-mile Michigan-Grand River Avenue corridor.

Capital Area Transportation Authority officials unveiled study results Tuesday that they hope will grab the attention of the Federal Transit Administration.

Less expensive than both modern street car and light rail systems, CATA suggests a modified "bus rapid transit" option that would speed travel along the corridor that runs through Lansing, Lansing Township, East Lansing and Meridian Township.

With new, more attractive buses stopping along a median, with doors opening on both sides, weekday ridership is projected to increase to 7,600 to 8,700. Current weekday ridership is 6,600.

CATA might seek federal dollars for public transportation improvements that will spark economic development along the corridor that has easy access to local highways, downtown Lansing and Michigan State University.


As the modified "bus rapid transit" system is proposed, a new fleet of 14 buses would travel along dedicated center lanes, offering faster travel, level bus-to-platform boarding, station fare collection, real-time passenger information signs at the stations and weather protection.

Travel time reduced

Twenty-eight CATA stations would line the corridor, reducing the travel time from the Capitol to Meridian Mall in Okemos by 17 minutes, especially since drivers would no longer collect money. And there'd be increased frequency of buses traveling the corridor.

With 43 stops, a CATA bus now takes 45 minutes to travel between opposite ends of the corridor.


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  • 5 months later...

I wish we had regulars over here. Anyway, just an update, CATA's Board of Directors formally adopted the Modified BRT as the Locally Prefered Alternative way back on February 16.

Facts on the proposed line:

- 8.45 miles long in center of the roadway

- 28 stations with fare collection kiosks, and level-boarding platforms

- 6 minute peak frequency

- New parking-and-ride facilities at Frandor and the Meridian Mall

- $129 million for capital costs

- $6.9 million in annual operating costs

- 7,600 to 8,700 average daily ridership

Now, the big problem is someone creatively building a plan for the capital expenses. At the moment, CATA is preparing an application to enter the FTA's Small Starts Program, whatever exactly that is.


The capital costs is so much because it's a modified BRT. In essence, it was modified to give it all the bells-and-whistles of LRT (the raised platforms, the dedicated traffic lane, the kiosks, parking-and-rides...), but without actually constructing the infrastructure.

Personally, I'd have preferred them to go all out if they were going to modify it to cost so much. $194 million in capital costs is going to be a hard hurdle to overcome. I honestly wonder how much they expect to get from the Feds in capital cost offsets. If they get the whole 80/20 split, CATA's service area would still have to put in about $40 million, which is the cost of the ENTIRE BRT line planned for Grand Rapids, if I'm not mistaken.

What's good to note is that the region did renew it's basic, local operating millage, last year, so there is very general support for the system, whether a campaign can be organized to excite folks enough to increase your stake in the system remains to be seen.

EDIT: Actually, I'm looking at the study's "capital cost" page for the modified BRT, and it seems that the greatest increase in cost doesn't come from the infrastructure but from "professional services", which I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I imagine it includes the costs for architects and engineers and such. For instance, if they'd have just gone with the Baseline Alternative (simply improving the existing bus service along the line) profession services would have costed $7.4 million; with the modified BRT professonal services would have costed $36.7 million. The next largest single cost is something called "contigency", not until you get down one more do you start getting into infrastructure (stations and shelters will costs $20.8 million). In comparison, the difference between the baseline and modified BRT in terms of new vehicles is only about $10 million. The largest single cost is "civil construction" which cost the system $65 million.

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  • 1 month later...

Forgive me for using Lansing to keep GR on its Transit toes, but Lansing is doing that over on the UP-GR Forum:

KUDOS to Lansing's Capital Area Transit Authority (CATA)! They have done it again! Check out their BRT vision as presented in their "Michigan-Grand River Avenue Transportation Study":


Their leadership soundly has a far better way of showing their public how their proposed BRT corridor will be enhanced and how development can be attracted to the Michigan Avenue/Grand River Avenue BRT corridor. The Board of ITP/The Rapid apparently has some sort of mental block or deficiency that prevents them from showing readily available and positive BRT-related development and ridership increases in other existing communities including with Cleveland's Healthline BRT, with San Bernadino CA's E Street BRT, with San Francisco's Van Ness Avenue BRT and Oakland CA's East Bay BRT.

CATA is even pushing for a more robust system out of the gate; even using language like "all the bells and whistles". There is MUCH GR can learn from CATA's example of vision and leadership on BRT use even before one piece of equipment is moved to begin the construction of GR's Silverline BRT.

Egad, here GR goes AGAIN - actually being development-wise a "young adult" city that at its pivotal moment of transit opportunity is acting development-wise like a "tight-wound insecure little kid that does not inwardly believe in its potential to live up to its GRAND moniker". The Silverline better come with all the bells and whistles too or it will vindicate the transit naysayers by becoming the costly redundancy of ITP Route #1 that it was seen by them as being. Said more plainly: IF THE SILVERLINE DOES NOT BRING IT, METRO GR TRANSIT EXPANSION WILL BE A GLOOMY AND NEARLY PERPENDICULAR PERMANENT UPHILL BATTLE.

We have great opportunity in our hands now. We just need the courage to produce something that minimally has the vision of Lansing. Good grief - WAKE UP GR!!

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You guys are further along in your plan, though. Just about shovel-ready. I hope that we don't make this into a competition, because their are better and more subtle ways to go about motivating.

Let's focus instead on the larger issue beyond any Lansing or GR BRT, that Michigan's Capital Region and Grand and Detroit Metro areas need to publicly acknowledge the economic, social and political advantages that will result from linking the three with higher-speed Amtrak or Chicago METRA-style commuter trains along the I-96 corridor <with stations at Detroit Rosa Parks Station, Lansing CATA Center and Grand Rapids Central Station with 30 minute frequencies at full build-out scenario>. Keep in mind that from a transit standpoint, Lansing, GR and Detroit have far more to gain collectively from an 1-96 commuter corridor than any benefits to Michigan that will come from the I-94 Chicago-Detroit Highspeed Line (though the examples of the transit benefits that will come to citizens of Benton Harbor, Kzoo/Battle Creek, Jackson, Ypsi/Ann Arbor can be used to illustrate what will surely come to the hubs of the 1-96 corridor).

Any obstacles such as freight right-of-way and rail-to-trail conversions or any other associated issues cannot be seriously addressed until there is the motivational will that can come from online groups of aware citizens - that all happen to care about others and the quality of their lives - deciding to put forth well-thought out urban visioning scenarios for public consideration and vision processing/refinement. LMich and Hood appear to be up to the task over here in Cap City, so let's get to stating what the hubs of MICHIGAN need individually and collectively to be successful and attractive as destinations and places to proudly call home . . . .

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I would love to see a Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids high speed rail line, it could do wonders to bring the communities together. I wonder what the costs would be for such a line...


Anyone that knows me knows that I am COMPLETELY down with your best-case vision for the I-96 corridor to be a highspeed alignment like that planned for I-94. Just keep in mind that it IN NO WAY has to be highspeed to be HUGELY utilized and successful. Even just being an Amtrak/Metra Chicago-style mode will cause a paradigm shift in how Lansing, GR and Detroit operate seperately and as an inter-connected corridor.

As someone who helped to envision the concept for GR's 21-mile east-west Ford Airport/GVSU-Allendale metrorail alignment, I can guesstimate that a GR-Lansing-Detroit I-96 commuter corridor could easily be a $3 billion to $5 billion dollar endeavor (and worth EVERY penny).

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I can guesstimate that a GR-Lansing-Detroit I-96 commuter corridor could easily be a $3 billion to $5 billion dollar endeavor

I just checked out the "Parsons Transportation Groups's Lansing to Detroit Passenger Rail Study - Phase Four Report & Business Plan" and discovered that they purport a cost of only $85 million for the Lansing to Detroit leg of the alignment (apparently in a non-highspeed format). WOW, if those figures hold relatively true, then it is reasonable to surmise that the westward leg of the alignment could be done for at least $100 million - FAR less than my $3 billion to $5 billion guesstimate (which admittedly operated on the assumption of the FAR more expensive costs associated with lightrail or metrorail - which is, of course, a VERY different cost animal).

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Such an extensive corridor has never been studied, but a Lansing to Detroit commuter line was studied quite some time ago, extensively:

Lansing to Detroit Commuter Rail Study

The good thing about this is that the study is long done, so if they ever wanted to do it, they'd just have to find is the funding and the agency to oversee it.

. . . . as well as identifying the analogous details for the westward/GR-bound leg of the corridor to be included in a new more expansive version of that study . . . .

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  • 2 years later...

This news is now months old, but in April, the FTA moved the project forward.  It is now in the project development phase.  Some changes were made increasing the total capital costs to $215.36 Million, of which approximately 35% of it will be funded by Small Starts and the rest by other various federal and state grants and funds.  CATA is looking to have the Environmental Assesment (EA) done by spring of the coming year.  If everything goes as plans, it's still the summer of 2016 before service start, though.


In the downtown loop, the service would run in a designated, side-running bus lane (1.3 miles).  The vast majority (6.6 miles) of the rest of the line would run in a seperated median-running busway, except for two small sections where it would share the road with mixed traffic (0.6 miles) - between Bogue and Stoddard north of MSU, and between Park Lake and Campus Hills drive in Meridian Township near the eastern end of the line.  Of the 28 stations, 6 will be center, double-sided platforms, and the other 22 will be single-sided platforms.  The service will use 17 articulated buses which will be provided transit signal priority.  It will use the two existing transit hubs - the CATA Transportation Center (CTC) in downtown Lansing and the MSU/CATA Transportation Center (MSU-CTC) on the campus of Michigan State.

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In other transit-related news, the CATA Multimodal Station/Capital Area Multimodal Gateway broke ground in August, and is to be completed by early 2015.  It includes a new station that will serve Amtrak as well as inter-city bus services and local bus service.  The Amtrak station building will have a platform and canopy (there is no canopy at the existing station), while the bus services will have canopies (the inter-city bus services will have a platform).


The most interesting part of this project, though, is that since it sits wedged between both the existing Amtrak line (CN) AND a freight CSX freight line, there is space left on the CSX rail (south side of the complex) for a regional rail platform if a service is ever developed to Grand Rapids and/or Detrot.

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  • 6 months later...

This project now has a website:




Two little prelim renderings showing the reserved cental lane and an example of a stop:






A charrette began he other night.




CATA to kick off charrette for proposed rapid transit system


By Lindsay VanHulle / Lanisng State Journal


March 18, 2014


EAST LANSING — Capital Area Transportation Authority will discuss a proposed bus rapid transit system during a public meeting Wednesday.


The event will be the start of a five-day public planning process, known as charrette. CATA is considering a $195 million bus rapid transit system along Michigan and Grand River avenues from downtown Lansing to Meridian Mall in Okemos.

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Some results from the charrette, particularly about the section to traverse downtown East Lansing:


The main idea culled from the sessions: Dedicate the two existing lanes of eastbound traffic along Grand River Avenue in downtown East Lansing to the bus transit line. The median would remain largely intact and an additional lane would be added to Grand River mostly from the south side of the avenue, allowing for four lanes of eastbound and westbound motorist traffic.


EDIT: I ended up going to the website to see the charrette presentation, and the article doesn't exactly explain this clearly.  The BRT lanes are moved south of the existing median where the existing eastbound traffic lanes are, and thus become totally seperate from auto traffic.  The existing westbound lanes are converted to two-way with two eastbound and two westbound lanes.  It appears they shave the median down very slightly to get all the lanes in, but generally everything else is unchanged.  I'll get the concepts up, soon.







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  • 1 year later...

CATA released part of the technical analysis for the Environmental Assessment, yesterday.  It looks like they considered two alignments and have thrown out the busway alignment through much of East Lansing in favor of a cheap option, which will include using the median lane on the westbound part of the boulevard and the curb lane on the eastbound part.  They will be dedicated lanes, but they won't be physically seperated like in the busway option.




They said that the busway was too disruptive to vehicular traffic, and they couldn't make it work, It's also $10 million cheaper.  From the report:


Traffic models were built to test the impact of both BRT alignment options on the corridor.  The results clearly demonstrated that Option 1 would cause excessive delays on the corridor in the future, especially during the afternoon hours. Further, the congestion and delay in Option 1 was so extensive, it could not be mitigated by design changes.  For this reason, Option 1 was dismissed from further consideration as an alternative in the EA.  Option 2 has been selected as the preferred option for the EA.


In addition, the cost estimate for Option 2 is $10 million less than that of Option 1.



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  • 2 months later...

Yeah, on a scale from bronze to gold, the removal of the busway along the middle of the line drops this to silver.  Looks like of the three BRT systems planned or completed in Michigan (Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing), only the Woodward BRT line in Detroit will utilize busways extensively.

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