The Rapid seeks student input

The Rapid seeks student input

More than 11,000 riders currently use the existing Route 50 during Grand Valley State University’s academic year, making it The Rapid’s busiest route. A public meeting will be held on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the DeVos Center University Club to address the proposed Laker Line.

Jeromie Winsor, a senior transportation planner with the URS Corp., is part of the Laker Line project team. They are developing plans for a second bus rapid transit line that will connect the GVSU Allendale campus to downtown Grand Rapids, combining Route 50 and Route 51 into bus rapid transit service similar to the recently opened Silver Line.

“This is the largest and fastest growing ridership corridor for The Rapid,” Winsor said. “It has led The Rapid to consider ways to add transit capacity and increase efficiency.”

Winsor explained that they evaluated the new line based on a number of factors, including ridership potential, economic development opportunities and estimated project costs.

“We wanted to recommend a project that is competitive in the federal process for funding consideration,” Winsor said. “The proposed Laker Line BRT would decrease travel times between GVSU’s campus areas and provide more seating capacity during peak demand periods.”

The project team introduced the Laker Line Study in two meetings, first in November 2013 and then again this April. The public was invited to give feedback on the new route.

“This study and its recommendations represent an initial step in planning,” Winsor said. “Next steps include more detailed evaluation of social and environmental impacts, developing of a funding plan and detailed design engineering.”

Jennifer Kalczuk is a member of the Michigan Public Transit Association and works for The Rapid. Kalczuk agreed with Winsor on the necessity of the Laker Line.

“It has been very important to engage the public, but particularly GVSU students, faculty and staff, to get their input throughout this process,” she said. “Tuesday’s open house is the last opportunity to comment on the draft recommendation before we start the formal approval process.”

Construction on the Laker Line is expected to start in 2017, with full bus service beginning in 2018.

The Rapid and the project team have collaborated with GVSU, the city of Grand Rapids, the city of Walker, Allendale Township, MDOT and other community and neighborhood groups to develop the new line.

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