Improving transportation: Southeast Michigan comes together for advocacy on future federal transportation.

Author:Tait, Paul E.

Yes, we in Southeast Michigan can band together for our common good. Nowhere is this more important and actively occurring than in collaborative advocacy by both the public and private sectors to promote federal transportation legislation favorable to our region.


SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, and the Detroit Regional Chamber have long been partners in improving our region's transportation from public transit to freight logistics. SEMCOG brings to the table data, analysis, technical expertise and the local government perspective, as well as federal and state responsibilities for approving the spending of nearly $1 billion in federal transportation funds annually. In addition to lending its expertise and political clout, the Chamber brings in transportation system users from the private sector. Other critical partners in this effort are the Michigan Department of Transportation; the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (a coalition of business, labor and governments); Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties; and the city of Detroit.

September 30, 2009 marks the expiration of the current federal legislation that provides funding for our transportation system. The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (known as SAFETEA-LU) has guided our transportation spending since 2005. SAFETEA-LU provided some $244 billion to maintain and improve our nation's key transportation needs. It represented the largest surface transportation investment in our nation's history.

At this critical juncture, SEMCOG and its partners have developed a legislative policy platform to advocate for policies that benefit our region in the next transportation bill. Other regions in the country have needs that are very different from Southeast Michigan, making it even more important that we align our common interests and work together to ensure the needs of Southeast Michigan are addressed in any new legislation.

Our nation's transportation system is at a crossroads. We...

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