While many students are wishing for warmer weather on campus, the city has come up with a wish list of its own. Last week, the Ann Arbor City Council released a prioritized list of programs it hopes Michigan’s share of the recently passed federal stimulus bill will fund. Though the list of projects ranges greatly, they tend to have one thing in common — they ought to be funded by the bill. Funding these projects will accomplish precisely what the stimulus bill aims to do: create jobs, stimulate the economy and improve the local community. State and local government should coordinate their efforts to provide stimulus funding for the projects that Ann Arbor’s city council has outlined.
First on the wish list are repairs for Stadium Boulevard, which is worse for the wear after years of federal neglect. The southern lanes on the road’s bridge have been entirely closed, because the beam that supports that part of the bridge, according to Ann Arbor City Councilmember Leigh Greden, is deteriorating. It’s unacceptable for bridges in Michigan — or anywhere, for the matter — to be allowed to reach such a state of near-collapse. Luckily, the city expects to receive money for this project, and it should. Communities deserve the money they need to make roads like this one safe for residents.
The city is also requesting funding so that it can provide better insulation in low-income homes. Insulating these homes would help reduce utility bills and put money in the pockets of people who really need it, year after year. Not only would this save energy, this program would also allow these individuals to spend more money in the local community. It’s disappointing that the city may not receive funding for this program. While it’s true that other communities may need the money more, the federal and state governments ought to provide enough money to ensure that affordable, properly equipped housing is readily available to low-income individuals in every community.
Other priorities for the city include installing new traffic lights and creating bicycle lanes along Fifth and Division Street. Adding bicycle lanes is likely to create jobs during construction, improve traffic conditions and make it safer for bike-riders to get around in the city. Not to mention that it would encourage the use of bikes, helping to make the city greener and less congested. Similarly, the city’s plan to install LED traffic lights would make the city more sustainable. Officials hope they can use stimulus funding to replace all of the city’s traffic lights with energy-efficient LED lights. This project would save the city thousands of dollars on its energy bills, freeing up money for other activities. It would also reduce energy consumption, placing less stress on the environment, making this a wise investment for stimulus funding.
It’s clear that the city can’t afford to postpone these programs. Creating a sustainable city with well-kept infrastructure and properly insulated housing is a worthy cause for stimulus money. Like many other cities in Michigan, this city deserves to have its most important financial needs met with federal dollars.