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E-M:/ Statewide Rally for Better Transit on April 12 at the Capitol

For Immediate Release contact  Kelly Thayer, Michigan Land Use Institute 231/882-4723 x13
                                                    Janice Joseph, MOSES, 313-838-3190

Statewide Rally for Better Transit on April 12
M-TLC Rally in Lansing Calls for Smarter Investment and More Choices

LANSING—A STATEWIDE RALLY PROMOTING SMARTER TRANSPORTATION DECISIONS WILL BE HELD IN LANSING ON April 12.       The rally is sponsored by the Michigan Land Use Institute, MOSES, and other members of the Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition. The event will provide Michigan citizens with a rare opportunity to tell lawmakers how to invest $12 billion in taxpayer dollars to improve transportation and enhance quality of life in every community in Michigan. The legislature is expected to vote this spring to revise Public Act 51, the state’s primary law on transportation funding. Everyone is urged to come to this rally to support more investment in public transit, increased transportation choices, and a promise to fix Michigan’s deteriorating roads and bridges.
     The rally will be held at noon in the Appropriations Room, rooms 402-403 of the Capitol Building. Those planning to attend are urged to gather at St. Mary’s Parish Hall, located at 219 Seymour Street, on the north side of the Capitol Building beginning at 10 a.m. Following the rally, participants can watch an address to the House and Senate from the Gallery level of the Capitol building.
     Lawmakers have promised swift action on transportation legislation to replace the current law, which expires September 30. They will decide how much gets spent on public transit, pedestrian and bicycling options, road repair, and new road construction. But they have provided little opportunity for public input. Last month, Gov. John Engler appointed a so-called citizen advisory committee composed mainly of representatives of the paving and construction lobbies. House Transportation Committee Chair Rick Johnson, (R-Leroy), has said his committee will hold hearings only in Lansing, and not travel to gather public input.
     "Rallying in Lansing and visiting your lawmakers is a unique chance to make your voice heard," according to Kelly Thayer, Transportation Project Coordinator for the Michigan Land Use Institute. "Otherwise, the decision could be made in the back rooms of the legislature between lawmakers and the road-building industry. Let’s tell lawmakers to support transportation alternatives that combat congestion, stop sprawl, and conserve open land."
     Recent announcements by the Michigan Department of Transportation show the influence of the road builders. The Department has announced plans for $5 billion in new and wider roads while advocating a cut in public transit funding and offering no clear plan for repair of existing roads.
     "Building new roads obviously will not reduce traffic in metropolitan Detroit. An efficient bus system will," said Janice Joseph, staff organizer for MOSES, a faith-based community organization seeking urban revitalization in Detroit and its suburbs. "In addition, providing transit is a moral issue. A third of the households in Detroit don’t own cars, so they cannot get to the growing job market in the suburbs no matter how many roads we pave."

About Public Act 51
     Michigan’s Public Act 51 of 1951 defines how the state spends nearly $3 billion annually to support local roads, state highways, bridges, buses, trains, on-road bicycling, sidewalks, and other transportation options. These funds come from the gasoline tax; registration fees on cars, trucks and aircraft; and a tax on the sale of motor vehicles and their parts. This year, and about every four years, the Michigan House and Senate reauthorize the act. Their decision affects the quality of life and the landscape of every community in Michigan.

About the Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition
    The Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition (M-TLC) is a project of the Michigan Land Use Institute. The Coalition’s 23 member groups are calling for significant reforms in state transportation policy through the reauthorization of Public Act 51. M-TLC is calling for 10 percent of state transportation revenues to go directly to local transit agencies, working to ensure all Michigan roads are repaired and maintained before new roads are built, advocating a new program to ease congestion, and seeking greater public participation in transportation planning.

About the Institute
    The Michigan Land Use Institute is an independent, non-profit research, educational and service organization founded in 1995. The Institute's mission is to establish an approach to economic development that strengthens communities, enhances opportunity and protects Michigan's unmatched natural resources.