Lansing-Okemos High Speed Bus Line Waiting on Funding, Public Input

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Think it takes too long right now to travel the eight mile stretch between Lansing and Okemos?

The Capital Area Transit Authority, CATA, seems to think so as it works closely with regional planners to make that trip a lot faster in the future.

The plan calls for a bus rapid transit line, or BRT, which would be a series of high-speed buses that would travel along Grand River and Michigan Avenues between Meridian Mall in Okemos and the Capitol in Lansing.

CATA is still waiting to get federal funding approved for the $195 million proposal, which is part of a larger scale project to reinvent the Grand River-Michigan Avenue corridor.

"It's a bus that looks like a train but operates on wheels, it's in a dedicated lane on the roadway and not on tracks," said Susan Pigg, executive director with the Tri-County Regional Planning Association.

"There are a number of examples of these elsewhere in the country and when we looked at those more carefully they said that's something we could visualize here."

The high-speed line would replace CATA's current bus route along the corridor and would make stops at 28 planned stations along the way that could be accessed from either side of the bus.

Those stations could be economic catalysts for an area, according to Sandy Draggoo, CEO and Executive Director for CATA.

"You could have private developers buy the station, and have naming rights of the station and then have this subsequent build-up around it," she said.

But Draggoo admits one of the biggest hurdles moving forward with the project will be the logistical nightmare of trying to figure out how to cram more lanes into an already pretty crowded downtown East Lansing.

"There's very little wiggle-room, it's the most narrow along there and it has the most traffic," she said.

Not to mention it was just this summer businesses along Grand River Ave. had to deal with months of construction so the road could be resurfaced.

CATA plans to work out the details in community meetings planned for March in East Lansing, with other meetings planned in April for the other communities along the route.

The East Lansing meetings will be March 19 - 23, while the other community meetings will be held April 14 - 17. Click the link to the right for more information on times and locations of the meetings.

The route of CATA's Bus Rapid Transit line would follow their current bus route along Grand River and Michigan Avenues. Courtesy CATA
A proposed rendering of the Grand River / Michigan corridor. Courtesy Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
A proposed rendering of the Grand River / Michigan corridor. Courtesy Tri-County Regional Planning Commission

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