GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The drive between Holland and Grand Rapids can be tough, especially in the winter months.
But local leaders are considering a plan that would allow you to park, ride and relax.
It would be a new daily commuter route between Grand Rapids and Holland with multiple stops along the way. It could be dedicated buses or maybe even a train.
Thursday, city leaders met to discuss the viability of the project.
"The bottom line is, our roads will never be big enough and this project is about building a better, smarter, long term mobility solution for our future," Hudsonville City Manager Patrick Waterman said.
It's called the West Michigan Express traveling from Grand Rapids to Holland using the Chicago Drive corridor.
"With potential for transit stops along the way in the communities of Zeeland, Hudsonville and Grandville to begin," Waterman said.
This idea was modeled after the Holland to Grand Rapids Interurban Rail system which operated in the early 1900's.
"Yet despite the tremendous success of this rail line, the system eventually gave way to personal automobiles, a trend that has lasted a hundred years," Waterman said.
The project is centered around the commuter, reducing traffic, freeing up parking, and appealing to those without vehicles.
"It's bus or train. We're looking at both options," Waterman said.
The corridor between Grand Rapids and Holland is the most heavily traveled work stretch in the region.
"About two-thirds coming in to the city and about a third going out to the west," Waterman said.
It services nearly 28,000 commuters every day. The idea is to begin with an existing transit system rather than building a new transit authority from scratch.
"We are not talking about any millage's at this point, this is something that we're going to be looking to the private sector to fund, it just happens that a public sector group is leading the initiative on it," Waterman said.
If all goes according to plan, this could be up and running by the end of 2020 with the potential for future stops in cities like Rockford and Lowell along the way.
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