– What’s Wrong with the Purpose & Need Document? Lack of Public Review

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In May 2015, the “Final Purpose and Need Document” for the Ann Arbor Station project was presented to the public and to the project’s committee members. Ann Arbor City Transportation Program Manager, Eli Cooper, and URS Project Manager, Robert Gorski, the city’s consultant for the Ann Arbor Station project, indicated that the document had been sent to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for review. While elements of the Purpose and Need Document had been presented in part, during the meetings of Leadership Advisory Committee, Citizens Advisory Committee, and meetings with the public, the May meeting was the first time that the contents of the document were presented in full. The project staff indicated that the Purpose and Need Document was complete, and that no additional public input would be included in it.

Because the Purpose and Need Document included information with which our group disagrees, we reviewed it in detail, and sent our comments to the FRA in the form of a letter of protest. We found that significant portions of the Purpose and Need Document outlined problems with the current train station that were either minor in scope and easily addressed, or that went beyond describing deficiencies of the existing Amtrak depot building and facilities, to allege limitations of one specific geographic location that is under consideration. The report submitted to the FRA appeared biased against the existing location in a way that could prejudice the decision on the preferred site for the station.

Our letter of protest, sent to the FRA is included here (scroll to view entire document):


Earlier in 2015, the Sierra Club Huron Valley Group reviewed the Final Purpose and Need Document, and sent a similar letter of concern to the FRA (scroll to view entire document):


We suggest that a neutral description of passenger rail requirements will best serve the future needs of our community. We remain concerned about the biased information presented in the Final Purpose and Need Document for the Ann Arbor Station Project. We ask readers to review the information and contact members of Ann Arbor City Council to register your concerns as well.

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