Traverse City News and Events

Boardman Lake Trail Loop Construction Set For Summer

By Beth Milligan | May 5, 2020

Construction on the next phase of the Boardman Lake Trail loop will begin this summer after Traverse City commissioners Monday approved a contract to build a new segment from Fourteenth Street to Northwestern Michigan College's University Center. The project, planned to be completed by fall, will be followed by two more phases of construction that will likely carry over into 2021 - finally completing the long-planned five-mile loop around the lake.

Team Elmer’s was the sole company to submit a bid to build the new one-mile paved segment of trail between Fourteenth Street and Dendrinos Drive next to NMC’s University Center. The company’s bid came in at $2,043,142 – a figure $182,094 over project estimates, or 9.78 percent over budget. However, that percentage is within an acceptable range according to guidelines set by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), which is administering the bidding process. A past attempt to bid out the project resulted in two bids that came in at $2.5 million and $3.5 million – 154 and 221 percent higher than the city’s original estimate of $1.6 million. Those results caused the city to reject the initial bids, revise cost estimates for the project that more realistically reflected market pricing, and go through a new bidding process this spring.

MDOT is providing $836,143 for the project through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), while the remaining costs will be covered through a city bond which will be paid back through the Boardman Lake Avenue brownfield plan. That plan was originally intended to fund a new road connecting Fourteenth Street to Eighth Street (called Boardman Lake Avenue), but the city has since abandoned that proposal and will use funding for the trail instead. According to Executive Director Julie Clark of TART Trails, Team Elmer’s will begin construction on the new trail segment this summer, with work set to be completed by fall.

“It’ll get people right to the NMC campus, so we’re excited about that and about having a better connection to Cass (Road from the trail),” says Clark. “We’re excited about the mobility it provides in the short term, as well as the transportation options it opens up in the long term.”

Two more phases of construction will follow the Fourteenth-Dendrinos trail build: another new segment connecting the University Center to Medalie Park, completing the Boardman Lake Trail loop, and a connector spur that will connect the University Center to South Airport Road along Cass Road. Clark says staff are “working really hard to get those two final legs wrapped up” and ready to go out to bid, ideally this summer. However, because of process delays related to the pandemic, Clark isn’t sure if construction will begin on those two phases this year and says work will likely carry over and be completed in 2021. “With COVID-19 hitting, it kind of all broke loose,” she says. “We don’t have a timeline on when construction would occur, but we don’t anticipate it would be complete this year.” The total estimated construction budget for all three phases is $6.3 million, while the overall Boardman Lake Trail budget – including bonding, interest, engineering, design, and maintenance – is estimated at $8.22 million. Numerous local, state, federal, private, and individual entities have contributed funding to the project.

A final maintenance plan for the long-term care of the Boardman Lake Trail will go to Grand Traverse County commissioners Wednesday for approval – one of several local jurisdictions required to sign off on the document. The trail loop crosses both City of Traverse City and Garfield Township boundaries. Garfield Township contributed $800,000 to an endowment fund that will provide dedicated revenues for ongoing maintenance, while the City of Traverse City will take primary responsibility for making necessary repairs each year – either using city staff or contracting out the work. TART Trails ambassadors and volunteers also contribute to upkeep on the trail. Clark says having a committed maintenance fund will ensure that all of the investment in the multi-million-dollar Boardman Lake Trail will be protected going forward, keeping the trail in top shape for users.

“We'll be excited to see concentrated maintenance (on the trail),” she says. “Having a dedicated revenue source is new and should go a long way to ensuring that preventative maintenance is done.”

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