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E-M:/ New Interstate Proposed in Michigan

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Kelly Thayer -------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dec. 21

Greetings Folks:

>From Kelly Thayer,
Transportation Project Coordinator
Michigan Land Use Institute

Here's an article from today's Detroit Free Press regarding the proposed new $1 billion interstate I-73 from Toledo to Jackson, Michigan. I'm quoted advocating for improving existing roads that already link the two cities and for creating a rail option.

On the Internet:

>From the Internet:
Freeway would link Jackson
and Toledo

December 21, 1999


Motorists traveling between Jackson and Toledo,
and to destinations farther south, might have a
faster and safer trip in the next century.

The state and federal governments are considering
building a freeway between the two cities that
would, under a federal plan, hook up with other
road improvements all the way to Myrtle Beach,

The Michigan Department of Transportation will
schedule a series of public meetings on the I-73
project next year, as part of a $1-million study
that will end in December 2000.

The project, which could cost up to a billion
dollars, would alleviate traffic congestion and
improve safety on the 60-plus-mile trip between
Jackson and Toledo, now served mainly by
two-lane roads, said Hugh McNichol, I-73
project manager for MDOT.

Traffic problems include heavy truck and
recreation traffic on rural roads that also carry
agricultural vehicles, as well as Michigan
Speedway congestion in the Brooklyn area.

Besides building a new freeway, other options
include widening and improving mostly two-lane
roads such as U.S.-223, U.S.-127 and M-50.

Ann Hughes, executive vice president of the
Lenawee County Chamber of Commerce, said
congestion has made stretches of U.S.-223
dangerous, and improvements are needed for
safety and for economic development.

Kelly Thayer, transportation project coordinator
for the Michigan Land Use Institute, said building
a freeway would take too much undeveloped
land. Instead, he said, the state should widen
U.S.-223 in certain areas to improve safety.
"Widening to four lanes all the way speeds up
traffic and increases accidents."

The state could further ease congestion by building
a high-speed rail line between Toledo and Detroit
that would join another planned high-speed line
between Detroit and Chicago, Thayer said.

If approved, construction on the I-73 project will
not start for more than 10 years -- after money is
secured, design and engineering work is finished,
environmental studies are concluded, and
right-of-way is purchased. Under current
formulas, the federal government would pay 80
percent of the costs.

MDOT spokeswoman Kari Debnar said public
meetings on the I-73 project will take place at the
end of January in Jackson, Monroe and Lenawee
counties. Citizens are to rank the importance of
effects on traffic flow, wetlands, farmland,
waterways, historic properties and displacement
of people.

MDOT is to develop two or three
recommendations for routes at the end of next
year, before the federal government reviews the
plans for environmental clearance and gives final
approval for construction plans.

To comment on the I-73 project or receive
information, call 800-270-5654, anytime. For
more information, check

JEFF GERRITT can be reached at

Mr. Kelly Thayer
Transportation Project Coordinator
Michigan Land Use Institute
P.O. Box 228
845 Michigan Ave.
Benzonia, MI 49616
Ph: 231-882-4723
Fax: 231-882-7350
E-mail: kelly@mlui.org

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