Bike Path from MSU Campus to Lake Lansing on Track for Construction

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 11:32 am
By: 
Chris Gray

Above: View of the railroad tracks alongside which the trail will run under Grand River Avenue (photo by Gary Caldwell)

A much anticipated bike path connecting MSU to Lake Lansing Park appears to be on schedule, even as it will likely be another year before walkers, joggers and bicyclists can enjoy any part of it.

“Things are progressing slowly but surely,” said Meridian Township Engineer Younes Ishraidi, when asked for an update on the project last week.

The total project of nearly four miles of new trail is broken into three geographical lengths termed “phases.”

The western end of the trail will weave through the riparian zone along the Red Cedar River just east of Hagadorn Road, and the whole route roughly parallels the Canadian National/Amtrak railway corridor, leaving the river bank and following the railroad northeast toward Lake Lansing.

See a larger map of all three phases here.

Funding has only been secured for the first two phases, but with the landslide passage of a renewal of Ingham County’s trails and parks millage, the third phase will likely secure funding after the first two are completed next year.

Ishraidi said construction on Phase Two (the middle section) of the project this summer may actually precede Phase One (the western section), which won’t see work until fall. That’s because the middle portion – as the trail runs northeast between Grand River Avenue and Marsh Road, paralleling the railroad tracks – will be built largely on township nature reserve land and will use an existing path for part of this stretch.

The westernmost section known as Phase One, in contrast, runs largely through private property on the north bank of the Red Cedar River before it crosses the river and connects through Michigan State University land to campus bike paths across Hagadorn Road.

Survey work has started on Phase One, with orange stakes in the ground lining the railroad tracks behind Foods for Living and other businesses on Grand River Avenue in Meridian Township.

Phase One has a budget of $3 million – over three times that of the middle section. For Phase One, in addition to constructing an all-new bridge across the river, the township may have to compensate private landowners for the easement, or right-of-way, through their properties, which will run on the backside of apartment complexes, warehouses and retail outlets, including Foods for Living on Grand River Avenue.

Phase One of the project secured a $1.7 million grant from federal and state sources for construction. Phase One starts at MSU’s campus and ends where the railroad crosses Grand River Avenue, just east of Park Lake Road. The trail will cross Hagadorn Road with the aid of a crosswalk signal activation but will go under busy Grand River Avenue.

Much of the trail will be paved with 10 foot of asphalt, but the bridge will be 14 feet wide as will boardwalk sections through wetlands.

Phase Two, the middle section, is much simpler. That includes the section where the path will run from under Grand River Avenue along the tracks to Marsh Road, with an elbow in the trail where it will turn north along Okemos Road to an existing bike path, then due east back to the railroad using an existing trail.

Most of this middle section goes through public nature reserves and parkland that the township governs and no obstacles like the river stand in its way.

Phase One will not only require a new bridge; the township also has to negotiate the right-of-way with about a dozen private property owners, plus Michigan State University.

Ishraidi said the township has hired a consultant to assist with easement acquisitions, which must be secured before the construction can go out to bid. He said it’s likely construction on Phase Two will be underway before Phase One even goes to bid, likely in September.

Once Phase One and Phase Two are completed, it’s on to Phase Three, which will reach the large Ingham County park on the northeast side of Lake Lansing.

 

Ishraidi said the township will apply for federal funding for that but expects to largely count on grants from the county trails millage to finish the project.

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