Above: A portion of the Northern Tier Trail, just south of Lake Lansing Road.
Repair work on deteriorated pedestrian bridges along East Lansing’s Norther Tier Trail will begin this month, with surface repairs to the asphalt sections of the trail scheduled to begin this spring.
A preliminary construction schedule is available from the City’s Parks and Recreation Department. The schedule will be updated with ongoing trail closure information as the project continues. The first bridge to be removed and replaced will be the bridge located between Abbot Road Park and the East Lansing Soccer complex.
Funding for trail repairs is being provided by the Ingham County Board of Commissioners out of the Ingham County Trails and Park millage, passed by voters in November 2014. Signs promising millage-funded improvements have been up along the trail since last spring, but work was delayed when contractor bids for the work came back significantly higher than anticipated.
ELi previously reported that, in 2016, the County awarded East Lansing about $1.1 million in Trails millage funding to do repairs along the Northern Tier Trail. The bids then came in at about $1.5 million and up. In October 2017, the County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing an additional $437,589 of millage funds for the East Lansing projects, bringing the total award amount to $1,526,089.
“It cannot be said enough how appreciative we are of the Ingham County Parks and Trails Millage support we have received,” says East Lansing Parks and Recreation Director Tim McCaffery. “Just under 70 percent of East Lansing voters approved the millage in November 2014, demonstrating a tremendous amount of local support for our outdoor recreational amenities.”
Bicycle advocates in the County have been expressing frustration with lack of improvements along County trails despite passage of the millage. They point out that the millage was actually named and billed as a “Trails and Parks” millage, prioritizing trail repair and expansion before parks. Signs like the one shown here have marked County trails for over a year.
In addition to trail maintenance, Ingham County’s current millage award to East Lansing includes almost half a million dollars for a trail extension through Albert A. White Memorial Park, which is planned to connect the Northern Tier Trail system to the corner of Lake Lansing Road and Towar Road. East Lansing is hoping to secure additional money for this project from a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) trust fund grant, so construction on that project is not yet scheduled.
The pedestrian bridge east of the pond in Albert A. White Memorial Park is the second bridge scheduled for repair.
“We are excited for this project to be underway and want to thank community members in advance for their patience during the work,” said McCaffery.
A twenty-year East Lansing Parks and Rec millage expired in late 2016. Because of political and legal limits on how much the City can ask of property owners, City Council has opted not to go back and ask the voters for another East Lansing Parks and Rec millage. This means that this East Lansing Parks and Rec has been facing a significant reduction in its departmental revenue.
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Disclosure: Jessy Gregg is a volunteer member of the Ingham County Parks Commission.