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Many ways to complete new trail, officials say

ALPENA — Support from the community will be needed for the Sunrise Coastal Trail to move forward, officials said.

Representatives with the Northeast Michigan Council of Governments have spent the past eight months developing a plan for a proposed 44.9-mile trail that would cost around $17.1 million to construct. The trail would connect the Iron Belle Trail in Oscoda to the North Eastern State Trail in Alpena.

Steve Schnell, community and economic development planner with NEMCOG, said the project is still in its infancy, and officials want to hear from anybody interested in moving the project forward.

“There’s really no clear path (forward) right now, because, once we did this survey, at the end, we asked everybody, ‘OK, who wants to step up?,’ and nobody really did at this point — which isn’t uncommon, it just happens,” Schnell said. “People are interested, they want to help it, but nobody necessarily is stepping up to say, ‘I’ll take the lead on this.'”

Schnell said the project could move forward in several ways. A nonprofit could take the project on. Townships could agree to fund their portion of the project or through a recreation authority that could levy a special assessment.

The proposed route utilizes segments U.S.-23, railroad corridors, and existing trails. The proposed trail would begin at Oscoda Township Beach Park, where trail users would travel along U.S.-23 through Greenbush and make their way through a mix of rail corridors and existing trail at Harrisville State Park into Harrisville.

The route would continue north from Harrisville via rail corridor, past the Harrisville depot, and on to Lake Shore Drive, where asphalt pathways would be constructed with future road construction projects, to Black River Road. The trail would then travel into state forest lands near Negwegon State Park and continue to Ossineke Road.

From Ossineke Road, the path would utilize a shared road and bike lanes until travelers reach Squaw Bay, where they could utilize a floating bike trail. The floating bike trail would cost about $2.2 million to construct, and is included in the estimated cost of the project.

“It would definitely distinguish that trail from anything else in the state,” Schnell said of the floating bike trail.

The plan identified funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Federal Transportation Alternatives Program and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Natural Resources Trust Fund as the only known funding possibilities at this time.

Schnell said a project as large as the proposed trail won’t be completed at once. It would likely be completed in increments — usually $1.5 million sections — at a time.

Those interested in the project can reach Schnell at 989-705-3722 or sschnell@nemcog.org or Emily Meyerson at emeyerson14@gmail.com or 231-838-1539.

Crystal Nelson can be reached at 989-358-5687 or cnelson@thealpenanews.com.

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