What we are talking about


Streets and sidewalks


No matter what method we use to travel, everyone uses streets and sidewalks. Each of us may drive, bike, take the bus or take a walk – all in the same day. And that means, we must navigate Ann Arbor's streets and sidewalks.


Much of the work done in the City is to improve and maintain the infrastructure – the streets, sidewalks, and utilities. And this work seems to never end.


Each spring the orange barrels return, slowing traffic and creating roadblocks.


Each winter the potholes return, creating hazards for drivers and bikers alike.


Sidewalks are built that go nowhere - at least, no where right now. Some routes to parks, schools, work and shopping locations have no sidewalks. In the winter, we see people in wheelchairs using the street because the sidewalk is lacking. In the summer we see people in wheelchairs using the street because the sidewalk is blocked with vegetation. And many of us worry about the safety of crosswalks. Will drivers stop? Will pedestrians pay attention to the traffic?


What's going on now?


No one likes to hear that the City cannot afford to fix the roads. No one likes to say it, either.


Most of the City's funding for street and road maintenance comes from the State of Michigan's gas tax ($0.19 per gallon). And sadly, that isn't enough. Michigan has invested so poorly in infrastructure maintenance that it received a national grade of D – which is not quite failing, but nowhere near good enough.


Ann Arbor is more fortunate than some communities, because residents have also approved a millage that raises additional funds for street and sidewalk maintenance.


Here's where I stand


Once Michigan had the best roads in the country. No more. The State of Michigan spends less on road maintenance – including local road maintenance – than Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois or Wisconsin. These states are much like Michigan, with freeze-thaw cycles that damage pavement and an economy seriously affected by loss of manufacturing jobs.


I support planning effectively, designing thoughtfully and working efficiently to rebuild the roads as needed. Each of the reconstructed roads ought to save maintenance dollars in the long run if they are designed to manage stormwater and encourage a variety of transit uses.


The City ought to see sidewalks as public benefits rather than private investments. But until that day comes, I will continue to work to get needed sidewalk gaps filled and sidewalks maintained.


As a driver and a pedestrian, I expect better transit – faster, more efficient and serving more residents. I will continue to support transit, while working to address congestion and safety on our streets.


I also want to see innovating traffic calming measures, with bump out and lane diverters on residential streets. I want clearly marked and separated bike lanes, so we can really use bikes all year. And that means I want effective snow removal policies and practices.


I believe better street design is within our reach. We just have to be willing to change.


Getting Around


“There's more to transportation than shared bike paths, sidewalks and streets. A good number of people are advocating for inter-city rail, intra-city rail, bus rapid transit and a broad variety of solutions to a single problem - how to decrease congestion without decreasing transportation options. I'd like to see all of these ideas work. Wouldn't you? But for them to work, we need to be cautiously optimistic about the future - not pessimistic and certainly not impetuous.”



— Sabra Briere



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Paid for by Sabra Briere for City Council, 1418 Broadway, Ann Arbor, MI  48105