Category Archive : UM Bus Yard Proposal

2/25/16 Great neighborhood turnout for the FIRST EVER public forum on the UM Bus Barn!

Thanks to the great efforts by our ward leaders, Kirk Westphal and Jane Lumm, we finally had the public forum we have been asking for over the past two years! We were able to confirm a lot of the points we already made both yesterday in our letter to the Regents and this morning in our original blog post about the background to this meeting. Here were some of the confirming findings and other surprising comments we heard:

-Jim Kosteva, Director of Community Relations, confirmed the Regents have yet to see a summary of an environmental impact study or a traffic analysis. He noted they do not necessarily see these studies routinely prior to approval of contingent plans but acknowledged some projects do have them.

– Steve Dolan, Executive Director of Parking and Transportation Services, noted the following points:

  • Hours of operation are from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. every day. Volume is less on weekends but still has the same hours.
  • During peak hours, there are 140 vehicles / hour that come in or go out of the area.
  • Buses idle each morning prior to going out on their runs for an operations check by the bus driver.
  • The projected bus depot would not have buses backing into it on a routine basis.
  • Service vehicles would still have back-up signals.
  • There are a total of 1000 vehicles that need to be serviced over the course of a year. Their volume each day is approximately 16-20 Monday through Friday. Many of them are staged in other places across the University campus so they are not all in the proposed location.

– Sue Gott, University Planner, noted they had considered many different sites and felt the Green/Hubbard corner best served the purposes of centralizing the bus activity near North Campus. The green space further to the west toward Huron Parkway would have required a high cost to re-shape the hills to level out the grade for the purposes of mass transit and servicing.

There were a lot of targeted questions regarding concerns about noise, traffic, fumes, and water management but the staff acknowledged that our neighborhood integrity concerns ran deeper. The most cogent comments came from two retired neighborhood members (one city planner and one campus planner). They noted this site plan is not consistent with what should normally be a University of Michigan standard and that it clearly violated the zoning patterns that are commensurate with the rest of the community. (We will leave it up to each of you to express your background and expertise regarding your questions, concerns or comments to Regents. Please Cc in your e-mail so we can catalogue each of them over time. You may also add comments to this Blog Post as well.)

– Hank Baier, Associate Vice President for Facilities and Operations, concluded the session by saying “It’s a broader issue” regarding the overall mood in the room. In an informal straw poll, all hands went up when asked who was opposed to the current proposal. Mr. Baier stated his team will take our messages back to their leaders for further review. When asked, it was inconclusive as to where the bidding process currently is.

In the meantime, we drew the conclusion that the Regents need to hear more about our concerns in as many ways as possible. A separate link is available for you to send any e-mails to them: As above, please Cc for our awareness as well.

Our friends and neighbors clearly rallied tonight, demonstrating solidarity in how we do not appreciate the lack of input we had in the process and the short-sighted plan for the University of not recognizing and respecting the special place we have in Ann Arbor.

Special thanks go to our elected leaders including Council members listed above and Andy LaBarre, our County Commissioner, who also attended! We greatly appreciate their support and insight.

2/25/16 – UM Bus Yard background prior to Public Forum


UM’s Back Door is proposed to be at our Neighborhood’s Front Door!

Thursday, Feb. 25 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. in Building 520 of the North Campus Research Complex

Over the course of the past two years, University planners have put forth a proposal to move their current Fleet, Garage and Transit Services to the corner of Hubbard and Green roads. On February 23, 2016, Mr. Jim Kosteva, UM Director of Community Relations, wrote the following: “I would invite any neighbors to visit the Kipke Drive location and assess the noise and emission from the existing operations.” Today, February 25, 2016, is when he had arranged for the first publicly-advertised forum to discuss neighbor questions about potential noise, air quality, hazardous substance discharge, or other impacts on nearby homes (including Glacier Highlands neighborhood and low-income, minority residents) and the local watershed and environment. This invitation was portrayed in an e-mail to City Council members on February 8, 2016 and outlined that neighbors within 500 feet of the facility would be the primary designees for the invitation.

IMG_20160223_184522813Significant efforts have been made by interested neighbors and local elected officials to highlight this issue to University of Michigan authorities as a problematic plan from the start but this is the first meeting we have been given to gather more information and voice our concerns. We would encourage any/all members of the neighborhood to attend this forum to inform yourselves on the issue.

For videos of the Kipke station, please visit the Glacier Highlands Neighborhood Association YouTube channel:

IMG_20160223_165259898_HDROne of the major drivers cited by the University is not only cost cutting measures and safety concerns for their employees but also that they will gain 185 parking spaces at the Sports Complex near Crisler arena for commuter and event parking. These parking spots are currently being taken up by the University’s significant number of fleet vans and cars.


Here is a better schematic of what has been proposed and how it is better portrayed in the context of our neighborhood.

See the following summary of Regent’s meeting minutes and approval items provided by one of our neighborhood association members:

Here is a summary of the discussion at the original May 15, 2014 Regents meeting:

Transportation Operations and Maintenance Facility – On a motion by Regent White, seconded by Regent Richner, the regents unanimously approved the Transportation Operations and Maintenance Facility as described and authorized commissioning URS for its design.”

Oh, but they probably had a whole packet of information to consider, right?  Uh, maybe not so much – Materials from May 14, 2014 Regents meeting.  In the materials presented to the Regents, do you notice anything missing (from the picture of the site?  Weird how they cropped it, huh?)
Also, here is the sum of the discussion from the minutes of the Regents from April 15, 2015 meeting:
Transportation Operations and Maintenance Facility Christopher D. Vogelheim, of AECOM (formerly URS) presented the schematic design for the project that will replace the current Transportation Services building to accommodate larger buses and equipment in a more centralized location. After Transportation Services has been relocated, additional parking spaces will be available for commuters and events. On a motion by Regent White, seconded by Regent Bernstein, the regents unanimously approved the schematic design for the Transportation Operations and Maintenance Facility.”
Here are the documented considered by the Regents in April of 2015 before the most recent vote (Materials from April 15, 2015 meeting) – don’t laugh.
 From the University Record:
“The new operations and maintenance facility will accommodate current and future maintenance space needs, including the flexibility to handle larger articulated buses. It also will house heavy-equipment maintenance operations that are currently in a separate building.”
Here is the upside: “Departing the current site will make available nearly 185 spaces on the Ross Athletic Campus for commuters and event parking.”


As for parking and traffic concerns for the site, Jim Kosteva noted in an e-mail to elected officials on February 9, 2016 that “A traffic analysis was commissioned for the project, I don’t know if the draft report has been finalized, but we should be able to share and discuss the preliminary findings at the February 25th meeting.”

Essentially, the University has already admitted to NOT performing a traffic analysis or environmental impact study prior to putting forth the proposal and bid process to the Regents. As of this writing at 8:30 a.m. on 2/25/16, they have yet to release a sustainability summary either:

The other nearby outdoor facility, M-City, does have a very detailed sustainability plan available.

A letter (hyperlinked) was submitted yesterday to the Regents from the Neighborhood Association voicing concerns that they may have not have received all of the information they needed to know regarding the facts surrounding this proposal prior to their votes.

This situation is fairly ironic in that the University’s own statements and values are to be the “Leaders and Best” including the following quotation from their designated website:

The University’s location in the heart of beautiful Ann Arbor offers unrivaled access to the cultural richness of the University and the community, with exceptional museums, galleries, performance venues, entertainment, sports, and outdoor spaces.

It’s apparent the University wants to highlight the heart of our beautiful city to their students and donors but the periphery of their campus may be utilized for industrial sites, even when it is co-located with neighborhoods where their own professors, staff, physicians, alumni and supporters live.

Again, we would urge all of you to attend the meeting this evening if you are able. Additional information will be forthcoming following this forum.