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Transit sacked

Time after time, when given the chance to make public transportation a top priority, metro Detroit officials take an (acid) rain check instead. It was no different last week, when the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments executive council voted against adding three principles to a list of five that will be used to negotiate for federal transportation dollars. The five principles adopted call for improving the “existing transportation network” and generally continuing the status quo. SEMCOG’s Transportation Advisory Committee proposed the following goals be added to the priority list: 1) Fix existing highways before adding new ones; 2) Integrate transportation decisions with land-use planning; 3) Encourage development of public transportation in a way that connects with cultural, pedestrian, taxi, bicycle and other facilities and byways. SEMCOG Deputy Executive Director Kathleen Lomako said the executive council, made up of elected officials from seven Detroit-area counties, wanted to keep the agenda very broad and that’s why the additions were voted down. Board Director Dante Lanzetta said the proposal was complex, hasty and “not clearly done.” Public transportation crusader Karen Kendrick-Hands said the vote shows just how far away from public transit Southeast Michigan really is. “I guess if I want to enjoy the urban vitality of New York, Chicago, San Francisco or even Dallas,” she chided, “I’m going to have to move there, because it’s not coming here.”

Folks interested in transit issues should go to the annual meeting of Transportation Riders United at Detroit’s First Congregational Church, 33 E. Forest, on Jan. 31. The event starts with snacks at 6 p.m.

Lisa M. Collins contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or cguyette@metrotimes.com

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