Smart Growth America, MDOT and MSHDA release findings of year-long projects in five Michigan communities

Downtown Grand Rapids, MI. Photo by Keith Caterino. Downtown Grand Rapids, MI, one of five communities included in Smart Growth America’s work. Photo by Keith Caterino.

Smart Growth America is pleased to unveil a new resource today with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA). The report, “Leading Livability: Pilot Transportation Demand Management and Mobility Management Programs of Five Michigan Communities”, is designed to help local leaders in Michigan learn how transportation and mobility improvements can strengthen their local economies and create more livable communities.

Michigan Report CoverSmart Growth America partnered with MDOT and MSHDA to work with five Michigan regions over the past year: Washtenaw, Lansing Tri-County, Marquette, Grand Rapids and greater Traverse City. The program brought together a diverse array of transportation agency staff, community advocates and civic leaders in each region to discuss ways to improve transportation policies and programs.

The recommendations outlined in “Leading Livability” are a result of those discussions, and are designed to produce jobs, spur regional economies and improve quality of life for all Michigan residents in ways that build on local place-making efforts. While the recommendations are specific to the five regions, the lessons can be applied to many communities across the state.

“MDOT is all about listening and responding to our customers,” said MDOT Director Kirk Steudle. “We know that mobility and transportation access are key factors in where a person decides to live or locate a business. That’s why the department is more multi-modal in its focus than at any time in our 108-year history. We are happy to support Smart Growth America’s efforts to spark economic development and enhance the lives of everyone in our beautiful state.”

“Michigan is a model state in many ways,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “The lessons learned and the strategies developed here provide a rich opportunity for other communities across the country to learn from. Any community leader can read about the experiences of these five regions and adopt approaches relevant to their own conditions and challenges.”

“Sustainable community corridors serve as learning laboratories for strategic placemaking by targeting resources that can have the most impact in helping create vibrant, livable communities,” says Scott Woosley, executive director of MSHDA. “Together with the Michigan Environmental Council and Michigan Department of Transportation, we are thrilled to have had the opportunity to assist in connecting Smart Growth America with our communities. The Authority will continue to look for innovative ways to partner and share resources with the private and public sectors.”

“For a small town and rural county this project has been a golden opportunity,” said Dave Stensaas, Marquette City Planner. “We now have a clear path forward to improve transit services for the City of Marquette, something that without help would have otherwise taken years to accomplish. The help came at a time when our demographics, public preferences and public funding are changing. I’m sure other communities across Michigan are facing similar challenges, and these resources could really help.”

“The partnership between area transit providers, NWMCOG, MDOT, MSHDA and Smart Growth America helped us identify ways to better meet the mobility needs of our residents and further support our region’s economy,” said Matt Skeels, a Regional Planner with the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments. “This program has helped us take the next step toward a coordinated regional transit network—a key goal of the Grand Vision, our region’s long-term plan.”

This resource is part of Smart Growth America’s DOT Innovation project, which works with with governors, DOT directors and other transportation stakeholders to improve safety, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods.

Download the full report: “Leading Livability: Pilot Transportation Demand Management and Mobility Management Programs of Five Michigan Communities”

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