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Old Posted Feb 3, 2009, 7:34 AM
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LMich LMich is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Big Mitten
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Troy and Birmingham are going in on a centralized intermodal transit center that will be capable of being tied into Detroit's regional mass transit plan. Things just keep moving foward:


Growth platform: Troy, Birmingham race for $7M for transit site

Jennifer Chambers / The Detroit News

February 2, 2009

Troy -- The cities of Troy and Birmingham are racing the clock to finance a multimillion-dollar regional transportation center designed to increase rail travel, provide a regional transfer point for SMART buses and offer taxi and black sedan service.

Both cities have 16 months -- or until June 2010 -- to come up with $7 million to fund construction of a transit center building, a pedestrian tunnel and two platforms on a 3-acre parcel behind Midtown Square shopping plaza near Maple Road and Coolidge Highway.

The new station, called the Troy Intermodal Transit Facility, is envisioned as a hub in a larger regional transit system planned for Metro Detroit, including a commuter rail line from Ann Arbor to Detroit and a proposed light rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit to the suburbs of Oakland County.

The transit center, on the Troy side of the railroad tracks, would be built around the existing Amtrak rail line and stop in Birmingham and give passengers centralized access to bus, taxi and limousine services, which could help connect them to the northern suburbs.

Officials from both cities have been working on a transit center project since 2000 when developer Grand Sakwa, under a consent judgment, agreed to donate the land to Troy with the condition it be used for a transit center. The property will revert to Grand Sakwa if the deadline is not met.

In December, Troy and Birmingham agreed to pay the law firm Clark Hill $7,500 a month to lobby state and federal lawmakers for the funds.

City officials hope the transit center is an ideal candidate for funds in the federal economic recovery plan proposed by President Barack Obama. Obama is lobbying for congressional passage of an $825 billion stimulus package.

"We have an excellent chance of receiving funding under the stimulus plan," Birmingham City Planner Jana Ecker said. "We are one of the few packages for transit that is this far along." U.S. Congressman Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, said he is working with state, municipal and business leaders to help gather support to get the project off the ground.

Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United said the success of mass transit demands that people know where to catch a bus or train and where the routes go. Providing a centralized area for people to get information gives them an easy connection to the system, she said.

Plus, rail passengers who already use the Birmingham station would welcome the new amenities, Owens said.

"These types of transit centers can be a boost for redevelopment," Owens said. "You get lots of mixed use and condos and lofts around transit centers."

Bill Cowger of the Troy Chamber of Commerce said the transit center is a small capital expense with a huge potential payoff.

"Other transit proposals require major infrastructure. The primary infrastructure for this project is already there: the railroad. It's a really small investment for a huge leap to make Troy and Birmingham more walkable and eventually connect to the Ann Arbor-Detroit rail," Cowger said. "Once the service is provided, they will come."

City leaders said they plan to hold brainstorming workshops in the spring to get input from the public on the proposal.

You can reach Jennifer Chambers at (248) 647-7402 or
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