Amid GOP pushback, Michigan Legislature OKs $1B spending plan targeting biz incentives

Duggan pushes $317M plan to fix roads, sidewalks

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — Mayor Mike Duggan on Thursday announced a proposal to invest $125 million in bond funds toward revitalizing commercial corridors in the city’s neighborhoods.

Mayor Mike Duggan announces plans to sell $125M in bonds to fix up roads, sidewalks and commercial corridors.

The enhancement program is part of a larger $317 million plan to improve 300 miles of roadway and replace 300,000 damaged sidewalks over the next five years, city officials said.

Under Duggan’s proposal, about $80 million would go toward major infrastructure improvements along a couple dozen key city commercial districts, including Livernois-McNichols, West Vernor and East Warren. Upgrades would range from landscaping to bike lanes, improved on-street parking and wider sidewalks.

The announcement comes with a little more than a month to go until the Nov. 7 election in a race that pits state Sen. Coleman Young II against the first-term mayor.

“We said, ‘Let’s take $80 million and put it for building streetscapes to really rebuild our neighborhoods in their prime commercial corridors,’” Duggan said during a Thursday news conference near Livernois and McNichols. “That’s the vision, that’s the plan.”

The city said it is aiming to recapture an estimated $2.6 billion in spending Detroit residents do annually in surrounding communities, according to a study conducted by the Detroit Economic Growth Corp.

The city said the study, that’s not yet been publicly released, concluded major improvements would bring millions back to some city retail corridors. Livernois and McNichols, for example, could capture $215 million in retail activity annually, the city noted.

A before and after rendering of the McNichols corridor. The area is among a couple dozen targeted for revitalization.

The city said the remaining $45 million in bond funds would be funneled toward an existing effort to improve city roads and broken sections of sidewalk.

Young, who is set to debate Duggan later this month, has repeatedly accused the mayor of neglecting neighborhoods.

On Thursday, Young’s campaign manager Adolph Mongo called Duggan’s latest revitalization plan “smoke and mirrors.”

“It’s election time,” Mongo said. “This is just another announcement by the mayor. He has a lot of them these days.”

Duggan is expected to submit his plan to Detroit’s City Council in the coming weeks, requesting the panel’s approval for the sale of the bonds.

Janet Attarian, deputy director of the city’s planning department, said the bond proposal is a down payment on Detroit’s commitment to support its neighborhoods.

“Our neighborhoods deserve safe, walkable streets that really support our citizens’ quality of life,” she said.

Stephanie Harbin, a longtime resident of the Fitzgerald neighborhood, said she hopes the plan uplifts the area.

“We can’t continue to stay in this depressed type living because it doesn’t make you feel good,” said Harbin, who is president of the San Juan Block Club. “Just to see it being revitalized in this area and you are actually seeing the change, it makes you hopeful.”

Under Duggan’s proposal, no city general fund dollars would be used to repay the bonds. The funding rather would come from increased revenues the city is receiving from its share of state gas taxes and vehicle registration fees not included in its current road improvement plan.

The state started this year gradually increasing the gas tax and registration fees as part of a road funding package passed in 2015 that will generate the estimated $1.2 billion annually for road fixes by 2021.

Mainly vacant storefronts on the McNichols corridor in Detroit.

The city’s annual share of state road revenue will increase gradually over a five-year period, reaching its maximum amount of $95 million in 2021, officials said.

In addition to the $125 million in projects funded with bonds, the city intends to spend another $193 million of budgeted city, state and federal dollars to improve major roads and residential streets and replace broken sidewalk sections.

Construction on the first corridor projects would begin in late 2018. Corridors will be selected based on condition, traffic volumes and adjacent residential and commercial development.

The earliest corridor projects are expected to be completed by 2020. The city expects all corridor improvements would be completed by 2023.

The road paving and sidewalk repairs would begin next year and continue annually for five years.