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E-M:/ Freepress stories: I-94 and Metro airport parking tax

Sorry for cross postings.
This morning in the Detroit Free Press, amidst all the census news about the shrinking population in Detroit and the older suburbs, is this story about the
 I-94 expansion.  It's  time for us to make clear the connections among inner suburbs and Detroit's decline, sprawl at the fringes and lack of transportation choices.

1. I-94 work opponents make case for rails

Campaign stepped up as deadline extended
March 29, 2001 (Page 18 A)


It's shaping up to be a crucial time for metro Detroit to decide whether it will ever have effective and widely used public transit, say leaders from an array of groups hoping to stop growth of traffic and freeways.

Emboldened this week by an extension for public input, opponents of the massive expansion of I-94 between I-96 and Conner in Detroit are stepping up their campaign against the $1.3-billion project -- the largest of its kind ever in Michigan.

At the same time, groups such as the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, the region's chief planning agency, are mulling whether to campaign for an increase in the sales tax or taxes on hotels, gas or rental cars to help improve metro Detroit's inadequate public transit system.

The Michigan Department of Transportation announced Monday that the Federal Highway Administration granted opponents' request of a 45-day extension of the public-comment period on the I-94 proposal until May 11.

Critics say MDOT tried to downplay the scope of its I-94 plans, which with an additional lane in each direction, wide shoulders and service drives would be, they say, the equivalent of a 20-lane expressway tearing through nearly seven miles of Detroit.

Karen Kendrick-Hands, president of Transportation Riders United, said it's not only expensive but would increase noise and air pollution.

"What are they going to do with the rest?" she asked Wednesday of the remainder of I-94. "And what are we giving up when we pour all of our dollars into pavement?"

Environmentalists and mass-transit supporters say an effective regional commuter rail system connecting Detroit to Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mt. Clemens could be built for a fraction of the cost of the I-94 proposal. And that could come without the loss of homes and businesses along the expanded freeway.

Contact MATT HELMS at 248-586-2618 or helms@freepress.com.

2. Wayne County Tax on private parking at Metro Airport
Ironically the adjacent story in the paper edition on page 18A discusses Wayne County's 30% tax on private parking at the airport, which the legislature is considering eliminating.  Imagine if the airport parking tax were extended to the County owned parking facilities and used  to help pay for transit to give us a choice of how we get to the airport.

State ready to take ax to airport parking tax

Some legislators say Wayne County has profited far too long
March 29, 2001


LANSING -- A 30-percent tax on parking around Detroit Metro Airport is on the chopping block in the state House, while Wayne County officials say its elimination would force $15 million in county service cuts.

The House Tax Policy Committee on Wednesday voted to abolish the parking tax, which was approved by the Legislature in 1987 as part of a fiscal bailout plan for Wayne County.

The 30-percent surcharge applies to all private parking lots within 5 miles of the county-run airport, and makes Wayne County about $15 million a year. County-operated parking lots are not charged the tax.

Karen D. Kendrick-Hands, President
Transportation Riders United
1067 Devonshire Road
Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230
313.885.7588, fax 313.885.7883
Check out TRU's web page at http://www.marp.org/tru.htm
Try the Motranzit site, too - http://www.hometown.aol.com/motranzit
Also check out www.transitdetroit.freeservers.com &
If you don't ask the right questions, you will never get to the right answers . . .