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Participation Agreement

Participation Agreement

May 27, 1999 | By Kelly Thayer
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Revised May 27, 1999

Michigan has a pressing need to control urban sprawl, reduce traffic congestion, and strengthen public transit. The state’s open space is disappearing fast as malls, movie theaters, grocery stores, and other businesses fan out along the urban fringe and devour the countryside. Likewise, residents opt to live farther away from where they work, shop, play, and go to school. The result is moms, dads, and their teenagers all rely on cars and drive more than ever before.

Across Michigan, residents are feeling the high cost of designing communities around automobiles. Family expenses to maintain fleets of vehicles are climbing. Malls are draining the life out of Main Street. Municipal expenses to repair roads are increasing. And new roads are carving up the countryside.

From 1992 to 1997, Michigan lost an average of 77,000 acres of farmland a year. Over the same period, the number of motor vehicles in Michigan surged by more than 800,000, growing at a rate three times faster than the state’s population. The state predicts that Michigan motorists will drive nearly 52 billion miles on state highways alone, for each of the next five years — an increase of more than 10 billion miles since 1986. Factor in local roads, and the state’s drivers cover nearly 100 billion miles a year. With more drivers comes more congestion that the state Department of Transportation proposes to solve by building more than $2 billion in new highways, mostly in northern and western Lower Michigan. This is a waste of taxpayer money. New and wider roads often trigger sprawl and more traffic, eliminating any congestion relief a few years after they are built. A better plan is for the state to promote and invest in other modes of travel. MDOT should work with the state legislature to increase public transit funding, which varies widely from year to year. MDOT also should redirect some of its new road budget to improve existing roads in cities such as Detroit, which ranks among the worst for road conditions in the nation.

Simply put, Michigan is swapping open space for pavement and family time for commute time. It’s a troubling trend that can be changed with a focus on increasing funds for public transit, planning for compact communities, and designing road corridors to serve buses, cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition is convinced that the solution to traffic congestion throughout the state is to increase access to alternatives to cars, not to build new and wider roads to try to keep pace with demand.

The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition is comprised of citizens and organizations seeking to minimize congestion by curbing sprawl and giving people more choices for getting around. The Coalition is a statewide project of the Michigan Land Use Institute, and is overseen by the Institute’s Board of Directors.

The Coalition works to broaden state transportation planning to include, wherever possible, options for traveling by using trains and buses, bicycling, and walking.
The Coalition intends to help the public, local government officials, and state transportation planners recognize the connection between new roadways and the sprawling development that follows.

The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition’s five current priorities are:

  • Secure “10% for People, 10% for the Future”
    Mandate that 10 percent (the maximum set by the state Constitution) of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s annual budget be directed to funding trains, buses, bicycle routes, and pedestrian walkways. In addition, establish an MDOT fund representing another 10 percent of its budget to reduce traffic congestion, limit sprawl, extend the life of existing roads, and promote alternatives to car trips.

  • Increase Public Involvement
    Require MDOT to involve local residents in identifying transportation needs in a community and potential ways to meet the needs before planning new road or bridge construction. Then require local government consensus for a proposed project within three years of completing the needs assessment, or the project will be scrapped.

  • Fix Roads First
    Mandate that MDOT bring all state roads into good condition and maintain repairs at a sustainable level before expanding the state’s road network. Road corridors in good condition should include smooth lane surfaces and, where possible, bicycle lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks, curb cuts, landscaping, and storm water retention — and should be sensitive to the surrounding environment, especially in historic and scenic areas.

  • Plan Statewide to Integrate Transportation and Land Use
    Direct the state to create a comprehensive transportation and land use plan for Michigan before developing the next MDOT road and bridge construction plan. Numerous state agencies should play a part, including the state departments of Transportation, Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, Agriculture, and Education; and the state Family Independence Agency.

  • Preserve Railroad Corridors
    Prohibit planning and public funding of roads on railroad rights-of-way. Railroad corridors should be preserved for recreation and public transit use. Retain all state-owned rail corridors. Promote public purchase of abandoned, privately owned rail corridors.


1. Research, Communication, and Education Campaign

  • Research and gather data relating to the connection between new roads and changes in land use, and the link between new and wider roads and continued traffic congestion. In addition, the Coalition will examine and critique the traditional traffic count models deployed by MDOT to justify its road-building plan. The Coalition also will research effective transportation and land use regulation in other states.

  • Use the various modes of communication — fact sheets, reports, speeches, events, newspapers, radio, television, the Internet, and the Institute’s Great Lakes Bulletin — to assist local officials and grassroots groups in developing a more informed response to the state’s new-and-wider-roads agenda and the sprawl it promotes.

  • Conduct a public education campaign related to the underfunding of public transit and other modes of transportation, the scuttling of public involvement in state transportation projects, the need for comprehensive statewide transportation and land use planning, the importance of designing corridors for cars and people on bicycles and on foot, and the value of preserving rail corridors for recreation and transit use.

  • Create a process to assist local leaders and citizens groups, organize news conferences, and take other measures to mobilize immediate grassroots responses that provide the public with timely and complete information regarding the state’s cars-first transportation policy.

2. Statewide Networking

  • Expand the Coalition network of individuals, citizens groups, business executives, and local government officials.

  • Conduct training workshops that provide local officials and grassroots leaders with communications tools to counter the road lobby.

  • Provide fact sheets, other information, and on-the-ground support as needed to advance the goals of the network.

3. Legislative and Administrative Action

  • Monitor the Legislature and the Governor’s Office and immediately challenge attempts to weaken policy regarding rail, bus, bicycle, or pedestrian travel.

  • Monitor administrative agencies, and immediately disclose proposals to change laws or regulations that promote road building over comprehensive transportation options.

  • Work with state lawmakers to introduce legislation to meet Coalition goals.

4. Legal Defense

  • Establish a legal defense fund for the Institute to challenge state transportation policy when necessary.

5. Fundraising

  • Maintain an adequate source of funds to support the Coalition’s work.

Coalition Structure and Liability
The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition will operate as a project of the Michigan Land Use Institute. Financial and legal obligations for the Coalition rest solely with the Michigan Land Use Institute. Members of the Coalition assume no legal liabilities of the Michigan Land Use Institute. Members of the Coalition are members of the Institute and will receive a subscription to the Institute’s Great Lakes Bulletin magazine. Coalition members, however, will have the option of not becoming members of the Institute simply by checking the appropriate box on the agreement form.

Member’s Use of the Coalition Name and Affiliation
Members of the Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition are encouraged to use the Coalition name, and to identify its membership, when supporting the Coalition’s priorities or recruiting new members to the Coalition.
If a Coalition member wants to take a public position using the Coalition name, the member should circulate a draft of the position via e-mail to all other members. All members will have five days, including the day the draft is sent, to respond with comments. If no comment is received, then it will be assumed that the draft is acceptable. The Michigan Land Use Institute will help finalize the draft, taking into account the feedback provided by members. If a position proves highly controversial, the Institute will help resolve the points of contention. If necessary, the Institute will ask that the draft be held until it can be discussed at the Coalition’s next regular meeting.

Members should not indicate that the Coalition supports issues that are not clearly part of the Coalition’s priorities. Please note, however, that all members reserve the right to take a position on a subject that differs from the Coalition’s priorities when not using the Coalition’s name. This should be done sparingly, though, because all members of the Coalition should support the Coalition’s priorities.

Expanding the Coalition’s Priorities
New items may be added to the Coalition’s list of priorities at regular meetings open to all members, and by a three-fourths vote of members present. When possible, proposed new items should be sent by mail or e-mail to all members at least two weeks before the next regular meeting.

Member Communication
Every member group should identify a primary contact person to represent their group in the Coalition. Every Coalition member commits to providing important Coalition announcements, action requests, citizen alerts, and other information to its members and the local media in a timely manner. As coordinator, the Michigan Land Use Institute can provide resources, staff assistance, and technical support to organizations that request help to provide timely communication.

Membership Dues and Financial Support
Annual dues of $50 are required to maintain membership in the Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition. An exception to this requirement can be made if a prospective member is unable to pay the full amount. The funding will be applied to administrative costs of coordinating the Coalition, or will help to fund specific research or educational efforts of the Coalition.

Members of the Coalition agree to combine their available resources to maintain a campaign, which is likely to last at least two years. Available resources include: technical and management skills, research, financial assistance, media and member mailing lists, equipment, a work force, and communications assistance. This combination of members and resources constitutes the Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition.


Michigan Transportation and Land Use Coalition Participation Agreement

Member: ______________________________________________________
(Print Name of Organization, Municipality, or Individual)

Check any or all that apply:

  • Agrees that (Print Name of Individual)_________________________________ will serve as the primary contact with the Coalition.
  • Agrees to make a financial contribution of $________ to the Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition (this is in addition to the annual Coalition membership dues).
  • Agrees to help raise money for the Coalition.
  • Agrees to donate materials, equipment, or supplies to the Coalition. Please specify:

  • Agrees to help organize town hall and other community meetings.
  • Agrees to help conduct research on transportation policies in Michigan, in other states, and at the national level.
  • Agrees to share research data with other Coalition members.
  • Agrees to represent the Coalition in meetings or hearings with state lawmakers.
  • Agrees to help recruit new members to the Coalition.
  • Agrees to share mailing lists and recruit new readers for the Institute’s Great Lakes Bulletin.
  • Agrees to take other steps to support the Coalition. Please specify:

Type of Membership
Please make a $50 membership check out to “The Michigan Transportation & Land Use Coalition” and send the check, along with this agreement form, to: The Michigan Land Use Institute, P.O. Box 228, 845 Michigan Avenue, Benzonia, MI 49616.
Please indicate your preference:

  • Membership in the Coalition and the Institute, and receive all Coalition and Institute mailings — including the Great Lakes Bulletin.
  • Membership in the Coalition and the Institute, and receive Coalition mailings and the Great Lakes Bulletin — but not mailings about other Institute projects.
  • Membership in the Coalition but not the Institute, and receive only Coalition mailings and the Great Lakes Bulletin.

Member’s Authorized Representative & Title Date
(Please Use Signature)

Mailing Address

Telephone Number, Fax Number, & E-mail Address

Representative, Michigan Land Use Institute Date (Agreement Not Valid Until Signed by Institute)

Michigan Land Use Institute

148 E. Front Street, Suite 301
Traverse City, MI 49684-5725
p (231) 941-6584 
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