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GRDadof3

Should the M-6 have been built?

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Interesting guest editorial in the Press by Mark Mulder at Calvin College:

http://www.mlive.com..._highway_i.html

It takes some cajones to submit yourself to the abuse of MLive posters. But I'm glad the Press ran it.

M6 is biggest waste of Michigan taxpayer dollars in the last 20 years.

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...and the most damaging regional policy decision to the metropolitan area (Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville most especially) since the zoning re-writes of the 1960's.

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And it's not like we didn't see this coming. I remember the discussion through the 90s about the proposed route. Pretty much what was predicted took place. Still, what would have been the pattern without the M-6? I would guess that it would be down the axial routes: Broadmoor (so Caledonia and Middleville would have been larger), down 131, again reaching further into Allegan; the Wyoming panhandle have developed slower; Ottawa even more; and would the Ridge have withstood development? The movement out of the city would seem to be a constant, the M-6 didn't especially alter that. I think absent the M-6 it would take Kentwood another decade to realize how urban it is.

This is not a defense of sprawl, only a recognition that we would have had it in some other form. In 2000 we did not possess the development tools to properly channel the growth that was well under way. The question is, do we now?

...and the most damaging regional policy decision to the metropolitan area (Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville most especially) since the zoning re-writes of the 1960's.

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I'm a big fan of M-6. Take it to work, and to the airport. You have less congestion on 44th and 28th, and fewer semi-trucks taking 196 through downtown. Given the way the roads/highways are laid out in the GR metro area, M-6 makes perfect sense. The article might as well have been titled: Should a highway be built?

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I wonder if M-6 increased traffic on 131. if not then you can safely say that it had little effect on the city as it is mostly serving it function as a bypass to keep traffic out of downtown.

because of the economy it is difficult to sort out how much developments south of town had to do with population drop in the city. grand rapids being a mature city has little room for new development so when a house goes vacant there has to be a drop in population. it has been well documented that there are a lot more houses vacant now then 10 years ago and even with the new development downtown, there is nowhere near the capacity added as was lost due to foreclosure. not to mention that it is in a very different price range.

While I would agree that highway spending is wasteful for the most part, I do not know if you can blame sprawl on it, or the loss of population in the city. where my family lives, outside chicago, there is no highway anywhere near their city, yet the population has tripled in the last twenty years. mostly due to new subdivisions.

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I think you can certainly blame sprawl on highways. I think wmrharris is right on the mark here. Mark Mulder's article makes many valid points, but they are points made too late. Highways, at this point, are simply affecting where the sprawl goes, not whether the sprawl exists.

While I would agree that highway spending is wasteful for the most part, I do not know if you can blame sprawl on it, or the loss of population in the city. where my family lives, outside chicago, there is no highway anywhere near their city, yet the population has tripled in the last twenty years. mostly due to new subdivisions.

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I'm a big fan of M-6. Take it to work, and to the airport. You have less congestion on 44th and 28th, and fewer semi-trucks taking 196 through downtown. Given the way the roads/highways are laid out in the GR metro area, M-6 makes perfect sense. The article might as well have been titled: Should a highway be built?

I think we should always heavily question whether additional highways should be built. Do you not?

"Congestion" that you mention actually means that 44th and 28th were working as they were designed.

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I think we should always heavily question whether additional highways should be built. Do you not?

"Congestion" that you mention actually means that 44th and 28th were working as they were designed.

I have no problem with asking the question, but title the article more appropriately if you're just going to use boilerplate arguments. I don't think the article did any serious consideration of the merits of M-6 specifically. For example, it lumps the question of Metro Health hospital as a typical winner/loser scenario. But does the author really believe that Metro's relocating to the suburbs is that much of a loss to GR, when it already has Spectrum Butterworth+Blodgett, and St. Mary's? Does the author consider that M-6 has the rare distinction of a "bypass" of actually reducing the distance traveled, when most bypasses are by nature circling around the direct route? I think there are some strong common sense arguments for M-6 that are basically ignored by the author. I mean, the route just makes sense, and you even have our airport being served very well by M-6. Seriously, what more can you ask for in a highway project.

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Poor Grand Rapids debating why a highway shouldn't of been built with those nasty consequences like less congestion and safer driving conditions.

Places where highways are truly needed could only be so lucky to have such a discussion.

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I have no problem with asking the question, but title the article more appropriately if you're just going to use boilerplate arguments. I don't think the article did any serious consideration of the merits of M-6 specifically. For example, it lumps the question of Metro Health hospital as a typical winner/loser scenario. But does the author really believe that Metro's relocating to the suburbs is that much of a loss to GR, when it already has Spectrum Butterworth+Blodgett, and St. Mary's? Does the author consider that M-6 has the rare distinction of a "bypass" of actually reducing the distance traveled, when most bypasses are by nature circling around the direct route? I think there are some strong common sense arguments for M-6 that are basically ignored by the author. I mean, the route just makes sense, and you even have our airport being served very well by M-6. Seriously, what more can you ask for in a highway project.

On several of the points, I disagreed with Mark (the writer). Metro was going to move even if M-6 wasn't built, as far as I know. Same with Davenport.

But I don't understand belittling a letter to the editor that is contrary to popular norm (that the new highway was a good idea because there are bunch of houses and a Meijer by it). He doesn't make the claim that all highways are bad, so I'm not going to ASSUME that that is what he meant. Others shouldn't either. It reinforces my belief that supporters really don't have any defense of building it.

How does the highway make sense, from a fiscal and land use position? I've heard that it's cut down the commute times of a very small number of people. Is that the new definition of success? It certainly didn't add jobs, and it certainly isn't serving the manufacturing community that much. It made 44th and 52nd less efficient, because they are not near capacity any longer. And it has taken business away from already existing commercial corridors in the county. What else?

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Poor Grand Rapids debating why a highway shouldn't of been built with those nasty consequences like less congestion and safer driving conditions.

In the short run, yes; a new freeway may reduce "congestion" on corridors like 28th or 196. Have you driven down 28th through Wyoming lately? Reducing traffic turned out to be a negative consequence, not a positive one. In the long run, as the M-6 Six grow to become important regional cities (BECAUSE of M6) and M6 is the primary route connecting them, it's only going to become the next 696: a 10 lane parking lot.

The whole idea of this discussion is whether the state should be investing in infrastructure that caters exclusively to an unsustainable mode of transportation. This isn't about "reducing congestion" or creating "safer driving conditions" (don't even know how you came to that conclusion). It's about the heavy government subsidizing of limited-access freeways when the Rapid gets criticized for trying to subsidize a more sustainable (both environmentally AND financially) mode of transportation. Unfortunately, this is the first acknowledgment of that concept I've seen from local media.

Places where highways are truly needed could only be so lucky to have such a discussion.

Exactly; thanks for acknowledging that this highway wasn't truly needed. There are places where highways are needed, so why are we wasting money (regardless of where that money came from) on freeways that only serve to encourage Michigan's unhealthy addiction to cars and poorly-planned cities? I would think connecting 131 to 80-90 in Indiana would have contributed to West Michigan's economy moreso than yet another bypass that only makes it easier for through traffic to avoid our core cities. The Interstate Highway System should be just that: INTERstate (or Interregion, etc). Instead, it's become the INTRAstate/region Highway System.

MDOT needs to completely rethink its long-term vision, otherwise Michigan will become entirely irrelevant to the global economy once we run out of oil and land.

(edited for minor changes in wording)

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Poor Grand Rapids debating why a highway shouldn't of been built with those nasty consequences like less congestion and safer driving conditions.

Places where highways are truly needed could only be so lucky to have such a discussion.

There was no congestion. Prove that there was congestion, as defined by traffic planners. And do you know that those other routes are now safer? If you're going to wade into this discussion, better bring more than just one-liners and pot shots.

In the short run, yes; a new freeway may reduce "congestion" on corridors like 28th or 196. In the long run, though, as the M-6 Six grow to become important regional cities (BECAUSE of M6) and M6 is the primary route connecting them, it's only going to become the next 696: a 10 lane parking lot.

The whole idea of this discussion is whether the state should be investing in infrastructure that caters exclusively to an unsustainable mode of transportation. This isn't about "reducing congestion" or creating "safer driving conditions" (don't even know how you came to that conclusion). It's about the heavy government subsidizing of limited-access freeways when the Rapid gets criticized for trying to subsidize a more sustainable (both environmentally AND financially) mode of transportation. Unfortunately, this is the first acknowledgment of that concept I've seen from local media.

Exactly. There are places where highways are needed, so why are we wasting money (regardless of where that money came from) on freeways that only serve to encourage Michigan's unhealthy addiction to cars and poorly-planned cities? I would think connecting 131 to 80-90 in Indiana would have contributed to West Michigan's economy moreso than yet another bypass that only makes it easier for through traffic to avoid our core cities. MDOT needs to completely rethink its vision, otherwise Michigan will become entirely irrelevant to the global economy once we run out of oil and land.

Precisely. The Rapid gets chastised for asking for $35 Million to invest in upgrades to an existing route using existing infrastructure that serves 15,000 people a day. MDOT spends $700 Million and untold millions in maintenance on a route that serves 25,000/day and gets a free pass.

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There was no congestion. Prove that there was congestion, as defined by traffic planners. And do you know that those other routes are now safer? If you're going to wade into this discussion, better bring more than just one-liners and pot shots.

Precisely. The Rapid gets chastised for asking for $35 Million to invest in upgrades to an existing route using existing infrastructure that serves 15,000 people a day. MDOT spends $700 Million and untold millions in maintenance on a route that serves 25,000/day and gets a free pass.

I think the title of this thread indicates a discussion pertaining exclusively to M6, rather than one debating the greater purpose of infrastructure and land-use planning. Perhaps that's why it's attracting users who are only capable of repeating the political rhetoric they here from special interest groups and Mlive commenters.

@arcturus (and anyone else out there reading this): I encourage you to check out the Congress for New Urbanism, a good starting point if you're interested in forming an intelligent opinion of this topic. Of the many dynamic factors which determine the success of a region, transportation and land-use planning is one of the most important, and unfortunately is misunderstood by many- as you've illustrated here. Call me "elitist" or whatever, but intelligent discussion of such complicated topics requires a thorough, in-depth understanding of its variables. Contrary to what many Americans seem to think these days, common sense alone is not sufficient enough to make good decisions.

There are many resources out there that can assist you further if you're interested. Remember, knowledge is power. :thumbsup:

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I have no problem with asking the question, but title the article more appropriately if you're just going to use boilerplate arguments. I don't think the article did any serious consideration of the merits of M-6 specifically. For example, it lumps the question of Metro Health hospital as a typical winner/loser scenario. But does the author really believe that Metro's relocating to the suburbs is that much of a loss to GR, when it already has Spectrum Butterworth+Blodgett, and St. Mary's? Does the author consider that M-6 has the rare distinction of a "bypass" of actually reducing the distance traveled, when most bypasses are by nature circling around the direct route? I think there are some strong common sense arguments for M-6 that are basically ignored by the author. I mean, the route just makes sense, and you even have our airport being served very well by M-6. Seriously, what more can you ask for in a highway project.

Yes, M6 differs from most bypasses in that it decreases both the distance AND time of traveling through Grand Rapids. However, the harmful effects are the same:

1. Through traffic is rerouted to avoid the core city (and its local economy) in favor of the bland, cookie-cutter suburbs (and all their foreign-owned franchise chains). In this regard, the fact that M6 cuts back on a trip's distance actually makes it more detrimental to our region than a traditional bypass would be. The "M6 Six" should be renamed the "Anywhere, USA Six". How can a region have any civic pride when it looks and feels just like EVERY OTHER CITY in the U.S.?

2. Encourages the transfer of residents and businesses from the existing infrastructure grid of GR to the scarce open land of southern Kent County*. Now we have to assume the costs of building and maintaining new infrastructure in The Six IN ADDITION to maintaining the infrastructure in GR. You cite M6's proximity to the airport as another benefit. You're right- it does make travel between the GRR and M66 more convenient. Where you may be wrong is in your describing that effect as a "benefit." It's not a benefit, it's an enabler.

*Metro Health is an example of this. Where there are people, there must be health facilities. This only adds to the viscous cycle that is suburban sprawl: good health care systems such as Metro follow the masses. The masses follow good health care systems such as Metro. See where this is going? We mustn't forget about the indirect losses the city sustains every time a major employer moves to the suburbs.

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Yes, M6 differs from most bypasses in that it decreases both the distance AND time of traveling through Grand Rapids. However, the harmful effects are the same:

1. Through traffic is rerouted to avoid the core city (and its local economy) in favor of the bland, cookie-cutter suburbs (and all their foreign-owned franchise chains). In this regard, the fact that M6 cuts back on a trip's distance actually makes it more detrimental to our region than a traditional bypass would be. The "M6 Six" should be renamed the "Anywhere, USA Six". How can a region have any civic pride when it looks and feels just like EVERY OTHER CITY in the U.S.?

2. Encourages the transfer of residents and businesses from the existing infrastructure grid of GR to the scarce open land of southern Kent County*. Now we have to assume the costs of building and maintaining new infrastructure in The Six IN ADDITION to maintaining the infrastructure in GR. You cite M6's proximity to the airport as another benefit. You're right- it does make travel between the GRR and M66 more convenient. Where you may be wrong is in your describing that effect as a "benefit." It's not a benefit, it's an enabler.

*Metro Health is an example of this. Where there are people, there must be health facilities. This only adds to the viscous cycle that is suburban sprawl: good health care systems such as Metro follow the masses. The masses follow good health care systems such as Metro. See where this is going? We mustn't forget about the indirect losses the city sustains every time a major employer moves to the suburbs.

Your points are wrong for several reason. #1 a bypass by very definition allows easier travel through a area. people do not intend to stop, that is why they are using the bypass. probably less than one in a thousand (number comes from personal experience - how many times i've passed through a town that is not my destination before stopping randomly) before the bypass when people were forced to travel through downtown grand rapids. this contributes very little to the local economy but does add considerably to the congestion that you experience. your point about it being the same as every other freeway in the country is spot on. I do not know if it is relevant though.

#2. is a little more accurate but you cannot blame M6 for it exclusively. expansion southward was already well underway. Metro was going to move down there regardless. they were being crushed competitively in their EGR location. while M-6 does make it easier to spread east and west from 131 it does not prevent southward expansion. as was mentioned earlier by wmrharris, expansion is happening with or without the highway. this is a phenomenon not specific to grand rapids. developers only care a little bit if a highway exists. all they care about is that there is cheap, abundant land, of which southern kent county has.

as to the costs, this has been one of my biggest complaints for a long time. the cost/benefit ratio for highway projects usually sucks. most of them should never have been built and if you use this critera there is no way that M-6 is beneficial. how much through traffic from lansing to holland is there to justify a bypass that costs 700 million dollars. the payback is probably measured in hundreds of years. looking around the state and the waste of highway dollars though this project is no exception. 4 or so years ago I watched them tear up a perfectly good stretch of 69 (30 miles +/-) and rebuild it. there was NOTHING wrong with what they were tearing up. no potholes, very few cracks. the highway was not expanded, rerouted or any other appreciable change made. While I am no a insider, I can only assume that it was some sort of job creation thing, or maybe a use it or lose it budget thing. total waste of money which is what I would also say M-6 is. I don't think that it harms the city that much but It is not justifiable either.

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In the short run, yes; a new freeway may reduce "congestion" on corridors like 28th or 196. Have you driven down 28th through Wyoming lately?

Frequently. You?

Reducing traffic turned out to be a negative consequence, not a positive one.

Please don't tell me it has harmed businesses. 28th St and brick & mortar were in decline well beforehand.

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thanks for acknowledging that this highway wasn't truly needed.

Sorry, you jumped to the wrong conclusion. There's no question M-6 was needed, the only thing subject to interpretation is how badly.

MDOT needs to completely rethink its long-term vision, otherwise Michigan will become entirely irrelevant to the global economy once we run out of oil and land.

When?

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There was no congestion. Prove that there was congestion, as defined by traffic planners. And do you know that those other routes are now safer? If you're going to wade into this discussion, better bring more than just one-liners and pot shots.

I said 'less' congestion. What's so hard to understand? Less vehicles on *any* road means fewer accidents. Prior to M-6 vehicles used 196 and 96 and other roads. Without M-6 there would be more traffic on these highways and cross town streets. No different than when I throw a ball in the air ... I don't need a physics lesson or traffic planner to tell me it's going to drop.

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I think the title of this thread indicates a discussion pertaining exclusively to M6, rather than one debating the greater purpose of infrastructure and land-use planning. Perhaps that's why it's attracting users who are only capable of repeating the political rhetoric they here from special interest groups and Mlive commenters.

@arcturus (and anyone else out there reading this): I encourage you to check out the Congress for New Urbanism, a good starting point if you're interested in forming an intelligent opinion of this topic. Of the many dynamic factors which determine the success of a region, transportation and land-use planning is one of the most important, and unfortunately is misunderstood by many- as you've illustrated here. Call me "elitist" or whatever, but intelligent discussion of such complicated topics requires a thorough, in-depth understanding of its variables. Contrary to what many Americans seem to think these days, common sense alone is not sufficient enough to make good decisions.

There are many resources out there that can assist you further if you're interested. Remember, knowledge is power. :thumbsup:

I'm familiar with the Congress including the criticism leveled at it, thanks.

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.rolleyes.gif

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I said 'less' congestion. What's so hard to understand? Less vehicles on *any* road means fewer accidents. Prior to M-6 vehicles used 196 and 96 and other roads. Without M-6 there would be more traffic on these highways and cross town streets. No different than when I throw a ball in the air ... I don't need a physics lesson or traffic planner to tell me it's going to drop.

Why is a road with fewer cars on it better than a road with more cars on it? And are you sure that fewer cars = fewer accidents? Maybe more cars equals slower speeds which equals fewer accidents? Why are all the nightly news segments filled with deadly accidents out on deserted country roads? I hardly ever see or hear about deadly accidents in the city.

Are you one who also advocates for empty buses? Are empty buses better than full buses? How about 1 passenger cars? Is carpooling better or worse from an efficiency standpoint? Empty parking lots are better than full ones? Shall I go on? So the key to economic success is to have empty roads?

I totally agree, I don't see what's so hard for you to understand?

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Your points are wrong for several reason. #1 a bypass by very definition allows easier travel through a area. people do not intend to stop, that is why they are using the bypass. probably less than one in a thousand (number comes from personal experience - how many times i've passed through a town that is not my destination before stopping randomly) before the bypass when people were forced to travel through downtown grand rapids. this contributes very little to the local economy but does add considerably to the congestion that you experience. your point about it being the same as every other freeway in the country is spot on. I do not know if it is relevant though.

#2. is a little more accurate but you cannot blame M6 for it exclusively. expansion southward was already well underway. Metro was going to move down there regardless. they were being crushed competitively in their EGR location. while M-6 does make it easier to spread east and west from 131 it does not prevent southward expansion. as was mentioned earlier by wmrharris, expansion is happening with or without the highway. this is a phenomenon not specific to grand rapids. developers only care a little bit if a highway exists. all they care about is that there is cheap, abundant land, of which southern kent county has.

as to the costs, this has been one of my biggest complaints for a long time. the cost/benefit ratio for highway projects usually sucks. most of them should never have been built and if you use this critera there is no way that M-6 is beneficial. how much through traffic from lansing to holland is there to justify a bypass that costs 700 million dollars. the payback is probably measured in hundreds of years. looking around the state and the waste of highway dollars though this project is no exception. 4 or so years ago I watched them tear up a perfectly good stretch of 69 (30 miles +/-) and rebuild it. there was NOTHING wrong with what they were tearing up. no potholes, very few cracks. the highway was not expanded, rerouted or any other appreciable change made. While I am no a insider, I can only assume that it was some sort of job creation thing, or maybe a use it or lose it budget thing. total waste of money which is what I would also say M-6 is. I don't think that it harms the city that much but It is not justifiable either.

Don't even get me started about the wasted highways around Lansing. That Northern "bypass" of 69 headed toward Flint has so few cars on it that you could throw a bowling ball down it for miles and not hit a car, even though it was put in about 20 years ago. Same with the Lansing Road "bypass" on the Southwest Side that they built in the early 80's (I grew up nearby). They now have two highways running parallel to each other, one with less than 10,000 people/day using it and the other with about a thousand. Both have been repaved recently too, I believe.

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as to the costs, this has been one of my biggest complaints for a long time. the cost/benefit ratio for highway projects usually sucks. most of them should never have been built and if you use this critera there is no way that M-6 is beneficial. how much through traffic from lansing to holland is there to justify a bypass that costs 700 million dollars. the payback is probably measured in hundreds of years. looking around the state and the waste of highway dollars though this project is no exception. 4 or so years ago I watched them tear up a perfectly good stretch of 69 (30 miles +/-) and rebuild it. there was NOTHING wrong with what they were tearing up. no potholes, very few cracks. the highway was not expanded, rerouted or any other appreciable change made. While I am no a insider, I can only assume that it was some sort of job creation thing, or maybe a use it or lose it budget thing. total waste of money which is what I would also say M-6 is. I don't think that it harms the city that much but It is not justifiable either.

Road building is expensive but it still represents the best bang for the buck. That's something that won't change for a long time. Yes it's costly.

Is the cost as bad as portrayed when looking at the bigger picture? How many jobs have been created by those new businesses nearby? How much of that developed land is now being taxed at higher rates? Now that it provides a more efficient route for many, how much less in gasoline and air pollution serving an ever growing population per the latest census? With easier access and land still cheaper (than developed downtown areas) does this not offer inducements for new businesses to start, relocate, or expand? Cities are losing population virtually everywhere to suburbs.

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Road building is expensive but it still represents the best bang for the buck. That's something that won't change for a long time. Yes it's costly.

Is the cost as bad as portrayed when looking at the bigger picture? How many jobs have been created by those new businesses nearby? How much of that developed land is now being taxed at higher rates? Now that it provides a more efficient route for many, how much less in gasoline and air pollution serving an ever growing population per the latest census? With easier access and land still cheaper (than developed downtown areas) does this not offer inducements for new businesses to start, relocate, or expand? Cities are losing population virtually everywhere to suburbs.

Yes, the population in those areas grew, but it was displaced from other areas of the county and other areas of Michigan. Did county revenues go up? No, they are way down. Did state or county sales tax go up? No. It was just population shifted around from other areas.

We really need to redefine metrics for growth in Michigan or we're REALLY going to be left behind.

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