Clare approves grant apps to complete rail trail through City

March 10, 2018

By Pat Maurer

Clare City Commissioners unanimously approved two grant applications to complete the “Clare gap,” the Pere Marquette Rail Trail through the City, at Monday’s meeting.

During discussion on the agenda item, Roger Yob, former Chair of the Rail-Trail Committee that raised funds to bring the trail to the outskirts of Clare, said, “We still support this project.” He said surplus funds from that initial fundraising ten years ago were available, approximately $30,000, for help with the local match on the project.

A photo west from Maple along Pioneer Parkway.

A photo west from Maple along Pioneer Parkway.

City Manager Ken Hibl reported that the project cost was estimated at $2.8 million. If approved a TAP grant (the Transportation Alternatives Program) would potentially pay $1.9 million of the cost as part of a co-application with the Bay Region Michigan Department of Transportation offices.

He said the second grant application through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund would potentially pay $300,000 of the cost, and said the Michigan Department of Transportation would also contribute to the project.

Hibl estimated that the remaining local share would be from $100,000 to $150,000.

He said Clare County Parks & Recreation has committed to provide $30,000 of the local match and the Clare County Rail Trail Committee has about $30,000 held by the Midland Community Foundation requiring the City to provide the $45,000 balance if the local match is $100,000.

In his agenda report, Hibl said, “A significant number of obstacles (ownership of the abandoned rail bed from Grant Road to the Moose lodge; ownership of the railroad trestle bridge west of the City; the need for a railroad crossing permit and funding being the primary obstacles) existed that precluded completion this important project.”

He continued, “With the tremendous support of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and our regional MDOT offices, we’ve eliminated (or are close to doing so) all of these major obstacles.”

“MDOT has agrees to allow construction of the trail within their M-115 right of way; The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has affirmed its ownership of the trestle bridge and will transfer ownership to us or Clare County; MDOT Rail has agreed in principle that they will allow a new rail crossing for the trail just west of the Department of Public Works Garage to allow us to use Pioneer Parkway right-of-way to construct that portion of the trail; and the Bay Region Office of MDOT and our local TSC will co-sponsor the major portion of the funding for the trail through … a TAP application and MDOT funding – the remainder of the funding to be obtained through application of a Trust Fund Grant and local match funding,” he said.

The route of the rail trail through the City is from the end of the trail west on Fourth Street to Maple then a short jog to cross the railroad and continue down Pioneer Parkway to Grant where the trail crossed tracks again and continues on the south M-115 right-of-west to the existing trestle bridge over the Tobacco river then west to connect to the finished rail-trail.

The completion of the project will make a continuous 85 mile rail trail from Midland to Reed City.

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