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Last-minute deal resurrects southeast Mich. transit proposal

Aug 2, 2016

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It looks like Southeast Michigan voters will get a chance in November to vote on a tax to expand public transportation. The deal among Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county could end decades of stalled efforts. 

Last week, Oakland and Macomb county leaders voted no on a ballot proposal to levy a 1.2-mill, 20-year tax on tri-county residents for coordinated public transportation.

They feared they wouldn't have enough say in how the money was spent.  But a last-minute deal addressed the concerns, and the no votes became yes votes.   

“I am satisfied that the accord we reached today not only offers something for our 40 communities and over half a million residents previously left out of the transit plan, but also incorporates the necessary protections we were seeking for Oakland County taxpayers,” says Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says the agreement shows the region is starting to move beyond a half century of infighting that has held southeast Michigan back. 

"This regional transit plan will bring not only independence and opportunity for people all over southeast Michigan, but it will allow us to compete with metropolitan areas across the country for development and investment," Duggan says.

The Regional Transportation Authority will vote later this week to approve the ballot question. 

If approved, it's expected the RTA will add rapid bus transit lines between Detroit and its suburbs, express service to Detroit Metro Airport and a commuter rail between Detroit and Ann Arbor, as well as expand cross-county bus lines.