Gene Shepherd Park to Macomb Orchard Trail connection coming soon

By: Sarah Wojcik | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 26, 2017

 A bicyclist rides on the Macomb Orchard Trail at Dequindre Road, between 23 Mile and 24 Mile roads. Crews are connecting the trail south along Dequindre Road to Gene Shepherd Park.

A bicyclist rides on the Macomb Orchard Trail at Dequindre Road, between 23 Mile and 24 Mile roads. Crews are connecting the trail south along Dequindre Road to Gene Shepherd Park.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The next phase of the Iron Belle Trail in Shelby Township is set to connect the Macomb Orchard Trail at Dequindre Road to Gene Shepherd Park, located near Dequindre and 23 Mile roads.

According to a Macomb County Department of Roads project information sheet, the project start date was April 10 and the estimated completion date is July 31.

The 0.85-mile, hot mix asphalt, shared-use path will travel along Dequindre Road from 24 Mile to 23 Mile roads. During the project, the contractor will maintain access to residential and commercial properties.

The trail connection has been in the works for several years.

On April 18, the Shelby Township Board of Trustees unanimously approved engineering costs associated with the project to the tune of $6,300.

Supervisor Rick Stathakis said the township engineer, Fazal Khan & Associates, will perform inspections at the site for approximately 20 weeks at an estimated cost of $315 per week.

Trustee Doug Wozniak moved to authorize the township engineer to perform biweekly inspections, supported by Trustee Lynn Wilhelm and approved by the rest of the board.

“I’m pleased to report that the construction of the portion of the Iron Belle Trail that extends from the Macomb Orchard Trail to Gene Shepherd Park is scheduled to begin shortly,” Stathakis said.

Matching grants covered the majority of the cost to the township.

Carol Thurber, of Fazal Khan & Associates, said the township initially was going to extend the Yates Cider Mill trail to Gene Shepherd Park, but the plan ran into problems.

“Two factors prevented that: limits on slopes by national standards that we couldn’t exceed — we would have to build a very large bridge that would cost $1 million — and the Yates trail is deteriorating so badly.”

She said the trail network in Shelby Township is crucial to Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail project, which includes a proposed 1,259-mile hiking route and a 744-mile biking route connecting Ironwood, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle Park in Detroit.

Thurber estimated that Shelby Township will finish its Iron Belle Trail connection in approximately three or four more phases.

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