Trails projects look to see construction in 2018
OTSEGO COUNTY — Work will start later this year on the Iron Belle trail extension, and it is hoped that the downtown Gaylord trailhead project also will begin before 2018 ends.
According to Rachel Frisch, Otsego County administrator, the final plan package for the trail extension should be ready to be submitted this week with the hopes of bid letting in May to determine who will do the construction. The almost 12-mile extension project should be completed in 2018.
Otsego County Commissioner Paul Beachnau is happy to see the trail extension project coming together. The self-proclaimed “trails guy” said he plans to be ready with his bike as one of the first to ride on the extension when work is completed.
“That stretch along the lake is beautiful and scenic,” Beachnau said of the new part that will run the length of the eastern side of Otsego Lake. “I like to see people out on bikes. It will be nice to get kids and families out on bikes. This will be a nice corridor.”
Frisch said there was a downtown trailhead project kickoff meeting Jan. 23 where a preliminary design was discussed by Larry Fox and Amanda Poynter of C2AE, the project's engineering firm.
“We hope that construction (of the trailhead) can begin in late fall of 2018, with an estimated completion of late spring or early summer 2019,” Frisch said in an email.
Beachnau, who is also director of the Gaylord Area Convention and Tourism Bureau, said he hopes to see some site work done on the trailhead in 2018 to get the project started and finished as soon a possible.
“We’re pushing to do everything that can be done to get the project completed by early summer 2019,” he said.
The trail extension project is to cost approximately $2,938,000. Funding is coming from a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant of $1,380,000, a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant of $600,000, an Iron Belle Trail grant of $30,000; a local share to be split among Otsego County, Otsego Lake Township and Bagley Township of $610,000, and a Department of Natural Resources Recreational Trail Program grant of $318,000, according to Frisch.
The trail project includes a 1.65-mile development of the hiking and biking trail in Gaylord between Fairview Road and Wisconsin Avenue, which the DNR is in charge of, and a 10-mile portion from Wisconsin Avenue south to Waters, which Otsego County is overseeing. This extension will connect with the North Central State Trail, which begins at Fairview Road and runs north to Mackinaw City.
The trail will be constructed of crushed limestone at a width of 10 feet.
The trailhead project is estimated to cost about $700,000, Frisch indicated.
“The entire cost of the project will be funded through grants from the MDNR trust fund, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), and an Iron Belle Trail (IBT) grant,” Frisch said.
The project has been recommended for a $300,000 grant from the MDNR trust fund for construction and $80,000 from the RTP for engineering. A $320,000 RTP grant for construction also has been applied for with the county still awaiting approval, according to Frisch.
The trailhead will be built on the east side of the Lake State Railway track between Main and Mitchell streets as part of the Iron Belle Trail/North Central State Trail expansion. The entrance would be on Main and exit on Mitchell.
“The trailhead will include an area for parking, landscaping, bike racks, areas for seating and restrooms,” Frisch said. “Our plan is to incorporate some of the key design elements from both the City Streetscape Project and the County Lawn Project — such as using stamped concrete and similar stonework.”
There is still preliminary work to be done before the trailhead construction can begin, Frisch noted.
“As we are still in the design phase for the trailhead project, we haven’t yet gone out for bid to determine which company will perform the actual construction work,” she said.