City forced to backpedal on scope of bike lane project

By Ian Perrotta

Will Hamtramck be known as the city of fixed-gears and beer? No cars and PBR? After last week’s city council meeting that just might be the case.

During the meeting, the council passed a resolution to enter into an agreement with livingLAB Detroit to provide non-motorized transportation services. Specifically, the city will employ a livingLAB consultant to update the city’s non-motorized on-street bikeway plan.

A total of $9,200 was allotted for the contract services. The updates are necessary in order to bring the plan into compliance with the requirements of a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) grant, which will pay for 80% of the construction costs that are recommended in the plan.

While it may seem like a frivolous use of cash in light of the city’s current economic crisis, the money actually comes from Act 51 Transportation funds that are provided to the city from the state.

Moreover, the city is actually required to spend at least 10 percent of its funds on non-motorized projects. Hamtramck currently has about $3 million of Act 51 funds on hand — leaving approximately $300,000 for non-motorized projects.

“No general fund dollars will be used,” says Community & Economic Development Department Director Jason Friedmann. “And there won’t be any direct financial impact to the general fund, either.”

Friedmann is well-versed in the project, as he has been working to develop a comprehensive non-motorized hike/bike lane system for  the city for several years. The current plan has actually been scaled back from previous versions and is now estimated to cost $214,447.

The original plans called for a slightly larger project scope and had set aside $50,000 in 2011 Community Development Block Grant Funds (CDGB) as a 20 percent match to an MDOT Transportation Enhancement Grant.

However, Wayne County’s 2011 CDBG allocation was reduced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), causing the $50,000 obligation to be reduced to just $4,000.

Once the required changes to the bike lane plans are made the city will reapply for the MDOT grant. If awarded the grant — which would be expected in the summer of 2013 — the city could provide the required matching funds through a variety of sources, including Act 51 and CDBG funds.


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