Higher Education and Travel & Tourism

Second Grand Rapids BRT route is in motion

October 17, 2014
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Laker Line
The Rapid CEO Peter Varga, shown here with a new Silver Line bus, already is in the planning stages of creating a second BRT line that runs east and west. Photo by Johnny Quirin

The Rapid is one step closer to bringing a second bus rapid transit line to Grand Rapids.

URS, an engineering, construction and technical services consulting firm, last week unveiled its recommendations for the Laker Line, a BRT line that would connect Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus with downtown Grand Rapids.

The Laker Line would essentially be a conversion of The Rapid’s current Route 50 line to a BRT service.

The capital cost for the Laker Line is expected to be $45.5 million, which includes buses and station costs. The funding will come primarily from the federal and state government.

According to the URS recommendations, the projected annual operating costs for the line are $3.8 million.

The Laker Line will span 13.1 miles, include 14 stops and operate 13 buses.

The URS recommended Laker Line route will leave the GVSU Allendale campus and follow Lake Michigan Drive through Walker and Standale. East of I-96, the line will continue along Fulton Street. It will cross the Grand River on the Fulton Street Bridge before turning north on Monroe Avenue and east on Michigan Street, terminating at the GVSU Center for Health Sciences campus there.

According to the report, expansion of the route to Plymouth Avenue NE may occur in the future based on development patterns and employment densities.

Similar to the Silver Line, the Laker Line would include portions of dedicated lanes and utilize transit signal priority, which extends green signals or shortens red signals, both of which improve reliability and schedule accuracy. The stations would be similar to the Silver Line stations.

According to the URS recommendation, the dedicated lanes will exist between an end-of-line station at the Kirkhof Center and Ravine Center on GVSU’s Allendale campus and around an end-of-line station at GVSU’s Center for Health Sciences campus. Dedicated lanes will also exist between GVSU’s Pew and CHS campuses, and the line will operate in the already existing Silver Line’s dedicated lanes along Monroe. Dedicated lanes may also be part of the route between I-196 and along Fulton Street, but that has yet to be decided.

The URS recommendation will go before the Laker Line’s advisory and policy committees for approval in November and then to The Rapid’s board of directors in December for approval.

If approved, the environmental analysis would begin in 2015, and the project application would most likely be submitted in fall 2015 to the federal government.

The timeline following submission of the project application is unknown; however, according to the recommendations, the Laker Line is expected to be operational by 2018.

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