Bridge replacement will close portion of trail

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published May 1, 2019

 The Paint Creek Trail will be closed for a bridge replacement between Dutton and Silverbell roads this spring and summer.

The Paint Creek Trail will be closed for a bridge replacement between Dutton and Silverbell roads this spring and summer.

Photo by Linda Shepard

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Replacement of a 96-year-old former railroad bridge will close the Paint Creek Trail between Dutton and Silverbell roads starting in mid-May.

Paint Creek Trailways Commission officials aim to complete the Bridge No. 33.7 replacement project by September. During the same time period, the entire 8.9-mile-long trail will be resurfaced, with intermittent closures scheduled.

The majority of bridges on the Paint Creek Trail, originally a Detroit-Bay City Railroad Co. route built in the late 1800s, are made of concrete, Oakland Township Parks and Recreation Director Mindy Milos-Dale said last year.

“This one is made of wood,” she said about Bridge No. 33.7. “It has steel I-beams, and the rest is wood.”     

The bridge traverses the Paint Creek, southeast Michigan’s premier cold-water trout stream, according to township officials. In addition to providing fishing opportunities, the stretch of the Paint Creek near the bridge provides opportunities to view wildlife, including minks, muskrats, beavers and birds.

The existing bridge will be replaced with a keystone-style steel truss bridge that will greatly improve accessibility for trail users while supporting a greater load capacity, allowing for the use of maintenance and emergency vehicles, trail officials said.

Plans include increasing the bridge width from 9 feet to 14 feet and ensuring support of a 10-ton emergency vehicle.

The total project cost to replace the bridge is estimated at $756,200, funded by several grants. The four member communities of the trail — Oakland Township, Orion Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills — have committed funds toward the resurfacing of their sections of the trail.

The trail resurfacing project will be completed in stages, and trail closures will occur concurrently throughout the spring and summer, 2 miles at a time, according to trail officials.

Resurfacing will improve the smoothness and regularity of the trail, providing a safer, more predictable and enjoyable surface, trail officials said. The trail was last resurfaced in 2004.

Paint Creek Trailways Commission officials recently announced a $407,000 grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation to be used toward the trail bridge replacement and the resurfacing project.

“The Paint Creek Trailways Commission is grateful and humbled by the generous grant,” David Becker, chairman of the Paint Creek Trailways Commission, said in a statement.

The Paint Creek Trail was the first nonmotorized rail-to-trail in Michigan. The Detroit-Bay City Railroad Co. later became known as the Michigan Central Railroad Co., and later still the Penn Central Railroad, until the company abandoned the line in the 1970s and filed for bankruptcy.

The trail is part of a regional rail-trail included in the Iron Belle Trail, planned as a statewide hiking and bicycling trail stretching from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula.

The trail annually serves approximately 100,000 pedestrians, cyclists, equestrians, anglers, nature enthusiasts and users of all ages and abilities.

“The Paint Creek Trail is integral to the revered quality of life available in the greater Rochester communities thanks in large part to the stewardship of the Paint Creek Trailways Commission,” Jo Allen, Community Foundation of Greater Rochester president, said in a statement.

For more information about the Paint Creek Trail, visit www.paintcreektrail.org or call (248) 651-9260.