House approves Alpena-to-Hillman rail-to-trail funding

The first phase of upgrading an undeveloped railroad grade trail between Alpena and Hillman into a scenic recreation trail is on the state’s list to receive a $300,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. The complete cost of the work is $2.09 million, with $1.79 million coming from other sources.

State Rep. Peter Pettalia said House Bill 5377 was approved Wednesday by the Michigan House on a 103-2 vote. The legislation allocates $27.9 million from the MNRTF for 70 land acquisition and recreational development projects throughout the state.

“These trust fund dollars are dedicated to helping improve recreation opportunities in our state, either through land purchases or facility improvements,” Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, said. “The funds are generated by oil and mineral sales to give back to the public for use of the state’s resources, so the program sets a nice balance.”

The Alpena-to-Hillman Rail Trail is a Michigan Department of Natural Resources project that will improve 24 miles of the old railroad grade trail between Alpena and Hillman in Alpena and Montmorency counties. The first phase will improve surfacing and bridge crossings for 13.5 miles of the trail from Franklin Street in Alpena to M-65 to bring the trail to current state and federal standards.

“The trust fund grants are one of many great opportunities for local governments and organizations to find the money necessary to make community improvements and enhancements that can add to the quality of life for area residents, as well as attracting tourists,” Pettalia said. “I encourage other governmental entities to consider these options, and welcome calls to my office for any way I can be helpful.”

HB 5377 now goes to the Senate for consideration.