SEMCOG grant gives Shelby trail project green light

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published July 9, 2014

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A $272,333 Transportation Alternatives Program grant from SEMCOG, awarded to Shelby Township June 19, will allow construction on a trail connecting the Macomb Orchard Trail to Chief Gene Shepherd Park, according to engineer Carol Thurber.

Due to high bids and unexpected obstacles, including railroad tracks, funding from a $1.9 million federal line item to connect trails through Utica, Shelby and Stony Creek Metropark was pulled, including $300,000 slated to benefit Shelby’s portion of the trail.

Shelby officials — Carol Thurber, Deputy Supervisor Brad Bates, Parks and Recreation Department Director Joe Youngblood, and Business Manager Cindy Martel — raced to find funds after losing the $300,000 last fall.

Because they managed to garner $177,097.50 from a 2010 board motion, sidewalk funding, Dequindre Road crossing project, force account for hacking trails through foliage, and engineering service funds, the township was able to secure a $108,543.62 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

With the two grants, totaling $380,876, plus the township’s contribution, the project is slated to have a $557,973 budget.

Thurber said that the number, while accurate, is on a sliding scale, depending on the ability of SEMCOG and the DNR to match funds.

“With this new grant, we are $380,000 and change in grant money for the trail, which puts us ($80,000) ahead of where we were with the federal line item, which was just under $1.9 million to connect Stony Creek to (Utica),” Bates said.

The mile-long trail project, constructed by the Macomb County Department of Roads and Shelby Township, will connect the Macomb Orchard Trail crossing at Dequindre Road to Chief Gene Shepherd Park with the standard 10-foot-wide asphalt path that characterizes the Macomb County Regional Trail Loop. Part of the plan also is to connect Chief Gene Shepherd Park via an unpaved dirt path to the existing trail at Yates Cider Mill.

“Our intent is to do the construction in late spring (next year),” Thurber said. “It shouldn’t really be a very long project. It should be open and ready to use by mid-summer.”

While she said her firm, Fazal Khan & Associates, had begun initial plans, it was waiting for the grant and currently is working on engineering designs.

“This was a long process, and we are very happy (to begin this project),” Thurber said. “We put in a big effort to (find funds and obtain grants). We really think this is an important trail. We’re so happy to finally make it a reality.”