Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday.
It passed the Senate by ten votes. A number of opponents have voiced concerns about how the authority would be governed, and the amount of power it would have.
Republican state Senator Tom Casperson sponsored the legislation.
“They were valid concerns. But I think there needs to be a regional transit authority set up, in my opinion, based on what I’ve seen down in Detroit. And I think there was plenty of support for it. You saw it today, and hopefully we see the same thing over in the House,” Casperson said.
Casperson is from the Upper Peninsula, but says improving transit in southeast Michigan is essential to the state’s economic recovery.
Democratic state Senator Coleman Young II was the only member from Detroit to vote against the measure. He said he supports creating a regional transit authority, but not one with the power to take away property.
“I think that when you have appointees making decisions about whether or not grandma’s going to keep her house or not, I think that’s wrong,” said Young.
The city of Troy will break ground today on a $6.3 million dollar federally funded transit hub.
It's expected to increase ridership for AMTRAK and allow passengers to easily transition between trains, buses, and taxis.
Mark Miller is Troy’s Director of Economic and Community Development. He says Southeast Michigan Area Rapid Transit, or SMART, will be an integral element of the facility.
"Smart has 7 routes. Three or 4 of them will come through this center and it will serve as a hub," he said. "A lot of people don’t realize how important SMART is in bringing students and certain workers into the city of Troy. We’ve heard from the business community that they really do need SMART for that."
Miller says construction is expected to be complete and the facility open for business by the summer of 2013.
Here's a link to a presentation on the proposed center with photos of the current transportation stop.