Lakeshore bike path proposed

ESCANABA – Though a bike path connecting Escanaba and Gladstone has been discussed for decades, Gladstone is now looking at a less-costly shortened route to get the project moving along.

Gladstone officials presented their latest plans during a monthly joint meeting of community leaders from Delta County held at Escanaba City Hall on Wednesday.

The proposed 2.25-mile non-motorized trail would travel along the Little Bay de Noc lakeshore from Gladstone’s current bike path and extend to P.5 Road by the Terrace Bay Inn in Wells Township.

The $1.8 million bike and walking trail would include four viewing platforms which could also be used for fishing and interpretive purposes, explained Pat Coleman, of Upper Peninsula Engineers and Architects, who presented details on the project.

Plans call for the trail to be built on the lakeshore on the east side of the existing guardrail along U.S. 2 & 41 and M-35. An extra wide width would accommodate two-way non-motorized traffic including bicyclists, runners and walkers.

In addition to linking together Gladstone and Escanaba, Coleman said other benefits of the proposed “Little Bay de Noc Trail” would be enhancing economic development, promoting healthy lifestyles, and improving the quality of life for Delta County.

Gladstone City Manager Darla Falcon told those attending Wednesday’s meeting that plans will be made to meet with stakeholders and potential funding partners. The project received a $10,000 grant from the Hannahville 2 Percent Fund which was used for a feasibility study.

A preliminary meeting with some stakeholders has already taken place and identified several funding sources which could contribute $1,450,000, leaving a local match of $350,000 which could be sought through a millage, said Falcon.

Gladstone Recreation Director Nicole Sanderson explained the “ambitious” trail proposal in the past was scaled down for cost reasons and in the hope that Escanaba would connect its bike trail to the system.

Escanaba City Manager Jim O’Toole said expansion of city bike paths has been considered in the past, including a connection from Lincoln Road crossing the railroad track to Bay College.

A bridgeway over the Escanaba River is another obstacle, O’Toole noted, adding the city’s recreation committee plans to discuss Escanaba’s non-motorized trail system on a monthly basis.

“I truly believe a trail between Escanaba and Gladstone will become a destination,” said O’Toole.

Gladstone Mayor Joe Maki commented that, in the future, Gladstone’s bike path could also be expanded north to Rapid River.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net