More than 20-years of planning came together Wednesday as community leaders and state officials broke ground on a seven-mile paved trail from Petoskey to Alanson during a small ceremony near Spring Lake Park in Bear Creek Township.
The 10-foot-wide asphalt pathway will wind from the Little Traverse Wheelway on M-119 through Bear Creek Township, Little Traverse Township, Conway, Oden, Ponshewaing and Alanson. Along the way the trail, which follows the former rail bed for the Grand Rapids to Mackinaw Railroad, cuts through two Little Traverse Nature Conservancy preserves, scenic Round Lake and Crooked Lake, the Oden Fish Hatchery and ends in the village of Alanson. The trail will eventually continue past Alanson to Mackinaw City, in a segment currently in the planning phase.
The $1.5 million trail was funded by a $942,000 federal Transportation Enhancement grant, a $300,000 Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant and a $100,000 contribution from Emmet County's trail capital fund, as well as additional funding from the DNR's Recreational Improvement Fund, Bear Creek, Littlefield and Little Traverse townships through the local revenue sharing board, the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation and the Top of Michigan Trails Council through a DALMAC Fund grant.
Lyn Johnson, Emmet County controller, commended former Emmet County planner Max Putters for installing the idea in the county and getting the Petoskey to Alanson rail-trail started.
"The county itself is very proud to have played a small role in the development of these trails," Johnson said. "... The county board recognizes the advantages of all forms of recreation, including trails."
Johnson said the intergovernmental agreements and cooperations really help to form bonds for other projects.
The Emmet County Road Commission will be overseeing the construction on the trail, which will be done by Elmer's of Traverse City.
The project is expected to be complete before the July 4 holiday.
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