Economic Befits of WALLY

LEH LEADING DISCUSSION AT THE SUMMIT (1)

The following is a reprint letter to the editor.  By Dr. Leo E. Hanifin was printed in the Livingston County Daily Newspaper

Consider Value and Options, too!
In every economic decision one needs to consider three things: cost, value and options. I was disappointed that the recent Livingston Daily article on the North South Commuter Rail (aka WALLY) focused almost exclusively on cost, and with little mention of the values that were expressed by many participants at Monday night’s meeting.
Of course, one value of commuter rail between Howell and Ann Arbor is for those who choose to ride it, making their commute safer, more reliable and more pleasant. However, many more citizens will benefit from such commuter rail, even if they don’t ride it:

  • Commuters on US-23 will have less traffic . . . if 1800 trips are taken on WALLY, there will be around 1500 fewer cars on US-23 every day (and the ridership estimates are very conservative).
  • More young professionals, who favor transit, will live in our county •
  • Economic development will be spurred along the route, creating more jobs and a stronger tax base for our county.
  • More residents will move to our county, and home values will rise.
  • As service expands beyond commute periods, riders will use WALLY for other purposes, such as medical appointments, entertainment/dining and events at both ends of the route.
  • The environment will be improved by reducing emissions from hundreds of thousands of auto trips each year.

All of these values were mentioned by people at the meeting..
Of course we have options, one of which is to do nothing. We can watch US-23 move further toward gridlock and then incur the enormous cost of continual expansion of US-23. (According to MDOT, one additional lane from Ann Arbor to Brighton would cost $600 million!) We can watch our children and grandchildren move away, and watch our economy stagnate due to lack of worker access.
For about $40 per year per family, we could have all of the positive values of good rail service to Ann Arbor, creating a more vibrant, livable community . . . making Livingston County a more attractive place to live, visit, work and invest.
Dr. Leo E. Hanifin
Chairperson – Livingston County Transportation Coalition