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

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.

12 Comments on "2/25/16 – UM Bus Yard background prior to Public Forum"

    This is an incredible resource. Thanks for putting this together. So unfortunate that this was the first community meeting on this. 11th hour it sounds like. How can we rally everyone publicly and vocally to stop this. We don’t want this in our neighborhood.

    I wasn’t at the meeting last night but from what I heard from the university was they were going to make the new transportation headquarters bigger so they can accommodate 60 ft buses, that way they can allow more students on board without having to wait another ten minutes or use more buses on the roads. I’m actually in favor of the university placing a bus garage because it will promote people to take public transportation rather than driving downtown just to get to there classes. Besides it’s not going to be in our neighborhood, as I recall glacier highlands doesn’t own that land, it currently belongs to the university so it’s really up to them to decide if they want a new bus garage or not. Also the university promised it would buy more hybrid buses in the upcoming years so that diesel your talking about isn’t going to happen because hybrid buses don’t pollute as much as regular diesel buses. So that’s my arguement for the new bus garage.

    Dear Mr. Barnett,

    “Besides it’s not going to be in our neighborhood”? It sounds as if this is something that you would not want in your neighborhood, but it is fine with you if it is built in another residential community, as long as it doesn’t directly affect you and your family. You might not be aware that there are many homes within 500 feet of the proposed facility. It will be the staging area all of the University’s buses, which will run in and out of the facility for 22 hours a day, from 5:30 AM to 3:30 AM. It will be the maintenance facility of all of the University’s fleet of 1,000 vehicles, and will hold all of the University’s heavy equipment vehicles. University officials said that this currently will involve maintenance of 30-40 vehicles per day, including weekends, but it is puzzling to me why, then, there are 130 parking spaces allotted for vehicles that are there for repair that day. There will be 70-80 employee’s per shift.

    There has not been a traffic pattern study or an environmental impact study, yet this project is now being sent out for construction bids. It has been in the works for almost 2 years, since May 2014, when the preliminary proposal was approved by the Board of Regents, without having either of these studies. Our neighborhood was informed of this 2 weeks ago. Public officials have apparently been aware of this for almost a year and have repeatedly asked the University for a meeting about this project, but the University has ignored all of their requests until last night, when they met with the community. The meeting was not well advertised. During the meeting, University officials were focused on how this was good for the University and sidestepped most questions about how this would affect our community, and were not honest in their responses to the few they did address about noise pollution 22 hours a day and air pollution.

    Of note, this facility will not only be within several hundred feet of a longstanding neighborhood, but will also be immediately adjacent to one of Ann Arbor’s few low income housing areas and within several hundred feet of North Campus Family Housing. There are many young children in all of these neighborhoods and there has been no apparent concern on the part of the University about how the constant noise for 22 hours a day and air pollution will affect the health and development of the children. There also has been no apparent concern about how the volume of traffic in and out of this facility could be a safety hazard for the children as well as of pedestrians and the many bicyclists who take this route to bicycle to and from work each day.

    There are many other areas in which the University could build this facility, including in the large amount of property they own behind the East Medical Campus on Plymouth Road, less than 2 miles from the proposed site. This might not be quite as convenient for the University, but would not affect any Ann Arbor residential areas. You might be interested to know that a major factor in the move does not have to do with
    the University’s concerns about conserving resources, etc, but has to do with gaining another 185 parking spaces in the athletic complex and plans to expand the athletic complex. The Plymouth Road site would do the same thing for them, but as I understand it would be more expensive for the University to build there. They are willing to have a devastating effect on hundreds of Ann Arbor residents, all of whom pay taxes that, along with taxes from other residents and throughout the State, help to support the University and it’s mission.

    I hope that this information is helpful to you as you consider whether this facility in this location (which is zoned residential) is a good idea for the Ann Arbor community. Though your neighborhood won’t be affected by this facility, it sets a precedent for the University’s placing industrial facilities in residential communities. If there is University owned open land in your neighborhood, or land that could be purchased by the University, your neighborhood could be affected in the same way in the near future, given the rate at which the University is expanding.

    Katherine Litow

    Hi Katherine,

    I’m in high school and live in Glacier Highlands. I am a big advocate for public transportation. Thank you for your response to my post.

    Charlie Barnett

    Actually, depending on what you are comparing hybrid buses produce marginally less total emissions than non-hybrids, but certainly not zero emissions. They tend to produce less particulates on average (that’s a good thing) but more nitrogen oxides (that’s a bad thing.)

    Correction: particulates are sometimes higher, sometimes lower in hybrids (which, by the way have diesel engines) versus standard diesels. Similarly, reactive nitrogen species outputs are sometimes higher sometimes lower, depending on the configuration and the operating conditions. All types perform the worst at the lowest speeds, i.e., idling. (http://mjbradley.com/sites/default/files/CNG%20Diesel%20Hybrid%20Comparison%20FINAL%2005nov13.pdf)

    …and sorry for beating a dead horse here, but from an air-quality perspective biodiesel is no better (or worse) overall than petroleum diesel. Engines running on biodiesel show lower emissions of some metals, but higher-density emissions of small organic particles compared to petroleum fuel (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032111001377). Depending on how the fuel is produced, biodiesel may partially offset CO2 emissions from CO2 captured in production. But this has nothing to do with the question of the impact of idling vehicles on local air quality.

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