CATA and its study partners completed detailed discussions about three potential “Build Alternatives” for the Michigan/Grand River Corridor: Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Modern Streetcar. These discussions included an evaluation of their potential costs and benefits, as well as how they meet goals and objectives for the Corridor.
From the beginning of the Study in the summer of 2009 through February 2011, the Study Partners identified and considered a large number of possible transit options for the Michigan/Grand River Corridor. On February 24th, 2010, several transit options, such as Personal Rapid Transit and Commuter Rail, were dismissed from further consideration because they did not meet criteria related to cost, ridership, environmental impact, consistency with local plans, and public support.
The study partners completed a more in-depth evaluation phase of the three remaining alternatives to compare their costs and benefits. Activities included conceptual engineering, transit service planning, cost estimates and review of economic development potential. A fourth alternative, called the “Baseline Alternative”, was also developed for comparison purposes. The Baseline Alternative was a lower cost approach that attempted to address the needs of the Corridor without the significant infrastructure costs of each of the three Build Alternatives. This would include enhanced bus shelters at major stops, new park-and-ride facilities and the use of traffic signal priority for buses.
The Study Partners hosted open houses in November 2010 for the public to review and comment on the alternatives and the results of the evaluation. Public input was extremely important as the CATA Board expressed its support of BRT on Michigan/Grand River Avenues as the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) at their meeting on February 16, 2011. (See One-Pager #9 for more information on the LPA.)
Now that an LPA has been selected, the next step is to apply to enter FTA’s Small Starts program. As part of the application process, CATA will conduct National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Scoping, the formal process that ensures citizens, elected officials, and appropriate government review agencies are involved early in the decision-making process and in outlining the scope of the study so comments and concerns can be addressed during the Project Development. In addition, the application process entails the following tasks:
- Refine Capital Cost Estimates
- Refine Operating and Maintenance Cost Estimates
- Estimate Ridership on Opening Day
- Quantify Auto and Transit Travel Time Savings for the Region
- Develop a Funding Plan
- Document Existing Land Use
- Demonstrate Future Transit-Supportive Development Plans
- Identify potential impacts to natural, physical, and social environment