Macomb and Wayne County Executives Face Off Over Transit Impasse

“We’re not going to support putting it on the ballot,” says Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel.

Jake Neher/WDET

Recently in Metro Detroit, it’s hard to tell whether regional cooperation between the city and the suburbs is at an all-time high, or hitting new lows.

Right now, that conversation centers around regional transit.

Can we come together to make it easier for people to get around without cars? That’s one of the big questions being discussed at this week’s Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference.

Two people who are at the center of that conversation join Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson from the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel is opposed to a new plan to fund the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s (RTA) vision for mass transit, and that position has not changed up on the island.

“We’re not going to support putting it on the ballot,” says Hackel. “Where is the problem? There might be a problem in Detroit and in Wayne County…We’ve asked (businesses) where the disconnect is in Macomb County and they all say there is no disconnect”

Hackel admits that he’s concerned the RTA millage proposal might interfere with voters’ support for a likely SMART bus system millage vote this year.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans put the plan forward in the first place, and is clearly frustrated by the lack of support from Hackel and their counterpart in Oakland County, L. Brooks Patterson, who is also vocally opposed.

“I can see a part of the region saying it doesn’t really value us enough, but vote ‘no.’ Don’t cripple the rest of the region,” says Evans, who says leaders should let voters decide, don’t derail the plan before it hits the November ballot.

“Macomb County is a part of the region until it doesn’t want to be,” he says.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.


WDET’s Mackinac Policy Conference coverage is sponsored by The Henry Ford.


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