The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently awarded federal Transportation Enhancement (TE) grants for eight projects in seven Michigan counties, including one for the West Bloomfield Trail amounting to over $600,000.
Each project will consist of bicycle paths and paved shoulders for bicyclists and pedestrians while facilitating streetscape improvements to four downtown areas, improving business districts by enhancing safety, walkability, aesthetics, and community and economic development, MDOT said in a news release.
The Road Commission for Oakland County (RCOC), in partnership with West Bloomfield Township, will construct a multi-use trail along an abandoned rail line from Arrowhead Road to Haggerty Road. The trail extends the West Bloomfield Trail, which connects to the Clinton River Trail. The project includes trail surfacing, roadway crossings, benches, trash receptacles, and trail shoulder restoration with native plants.
“These projects improve quality of life and have positive, long-term effects on a community,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle.
“We’re going to put a new limestone surface on top of the ballast similar to the existing trail, and have a safe road crossing at Arrowhead, Halsted and Walnut Lake,” said West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Director Dan Navarre. “There will be 400 feet of boardwalk north of Walnut Lake over a wetland area and a pergola area with benches.”
There will be benches installed every quarter-mile and two overlooks with benches — one at Woodpecker Lake between Arrowhead and Halsted Road, and another over a large wetland area west of Halsted.
A small parking lot will be constructed at the terminus of the trail at Haggerty Road.
“We also added something in the plan that was not in the original. We’ll be taking out the rails across Haggerty Road and make the appropriate repairs to the asphalt surface,” Navarre said.
The project budget is just over $1.1 million, including $611,431 in federal Transportation Enhancement funds and $500,261 from West Bloomfield Township Parks and Recreation.
“The $500,000 is our match and the majority will come from TE monies. Any extra dollars will come from our budget,” Navarre said.
The process to acquire the grants necessary to construct the trail system has taken about five years. Navarre said he’s excited now that it’s close to fruition.
“The new railroad corridor is 2.5 miles (for a total of nearly 7 miles of trailways) by 50 feet wide,” Navarre said. “We will be designing a trail similar to our 20-year-old trail that runs from Sylvan Manor Park to Arrowhead Road.”
The construction drawings were finalized last week and will be forwarded to MDOT.
In December 2010, the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Commission purchased an abandoned stretch of the Michigan Airline Railway corridor, from Arrowhead Road to Haggerty Road.
The total cost of the purchase was $1.725 million, with $1.45 million covered by a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and $300,000 covered by a grant from MDOT.
When completed, the West Bloomfield Trail will stretch out to 6.5 miles.
“Trails are one of the most popular opportunities people can do either by themselves or with others, whether that’s walking or riding, and some are equestrian,” Navarre said. “These are scenic areas. Our trail is highly used and we’ve gotten tremendous support from our residents.”
The project is expected to be bid out in April. Construction is expected to begin in May and wrap up by the end of the summer.
Under federal law, 10 percent of federal surface transportation funds are set aside for TE projects. Administered by MDOT, the grants enable communities to invest in projects such as streetscapes and non-motorized trails. TE funds provide a maximum of 80 percent of the money required for each project, with the remainder coming from state and local government and the private sector.