Traverse City News and Events

Construction Starts On Boardman Lake Trail; More TART Projects Underway

By Beth Milligan | July 21, 2020

Construction has officially begun on a new segment of the Boardman Lake Trail loop – a roughly $2 million project that will build a one-mile paved trail connection between Fourteenth Street and Dendrinos Drive next to NMC’s University Center. The project is one of several underway in the TART Trails system, with Elk Rapids officials recently approving a trail route for the new Nakwema Trailway connecting Acme to Elk Rapids and Traverse City commissioners approving funding Monday for trail reconstruction near Airport Access Road and an “Art on the TART” project near the Tenth Street trailhead.

Team Elmer’s is overseeing construction on the new segment of the Boardman Lake Trail that will run along the lake's west side (pictured). Work will include general clearing of the new trail area, sub-grading, gravel installation, construction of an approximately 1,200 lineal-foot modular block retaining wall, landscape restoration, furniture installation (benches and bike racks), and paving. Completion is planned for early November, schedule and weather permitting. The project should have minimal impacts on pedestrian and vehicle traffic, according to Team Elmer’s. The Michigan Department of Transportation (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 that will be paid back through a local brownfield plan.

“Many people have worked diligently to make this project a reality,” says Team Elmer’s Project Manager Al MacDonald. “The City of Traverse City and engineers are doing a good job trying to minimize environmental impact and tree removal for the project. They also have procedures in place to fight oak wilt for trees that are removed. This project will be a nice addition to the existing trail system.”

TART Trails Executive Director Julie Clark says bid packages are being finalized and should go out this fall for the two remaining projects needed to complete the Boardman Lake Trail loop: a new segment connecting the University Center to Medalie Park, closing the loop, and a connector spur that will lead from the University Center to South Airport Road along Cass Road. “We hope to have bids back in before the new year,” says Clark. “The idea being we can do some work this year, but have the majority of work done next year, with the goal of being complete by fall 2021.”

Separate improvements to the Boardman Lake Trail are planned as part of an “Art on the TART” project in partnership with the Traverse City Arts Commission. The two groups collaborated with Michigan Legacy Art Park in 2019 to install four Robert Sestok sculptures along the northwestern section of the Boardman Lake Trail. On Monday, city commissioners approved hiring local firm Inhabitect to complete nearly $15,000 in landscaping improvements on city property at the Tenth Street trailhead near Oryana. TART Trails is covering the costs for the project, which will help prepare the site for the future installation of a public art piece selected by the Arts Commission. The Arts Commission has $10,000 budgeted to pay for the artwork. The Arts Commission unveiled another public art piece on the side of the Gordon and Jean Cornwell Sailing Center Boathouse in Hull Park last week, with an additional piece planned for the future near Sixteenth Street – the end goal being to encourage bikers and pedestrians to travel around the loop and experience the various art installations.

City commissioners Monday also approved contributing $25,000 toward a planned $152,450 project to reconstruct a roughly one-mile stretch of the TART Trail between Three Mile and Airport Access roads. The base is failing in the 30-year-old trail segment and is at the end of its lifespan, according to Clark, with plans to replace and widen the trail from eight to 10 feet. Future phases of improvements will include landscaping, public art, and improved access through trail connections. Because the trail segment crosses three jurisdictions – the City of Traverse City, East Bay Township, and Grand Traverse County – Clark plans to seek funding from all three sources to cover roughly $60,000 of the project costs, with grants and a public fundraising campaign planned to cover the rest. “We do have a contract with Elmer's and will be ready to go once funds are in hand,” she says, with the goal of starting construction this fall.

Further outside of town, the Elk Rapids Village Council voted this month to approve a trail route through the village as part of the new Nakwema Trailway that will connect Acme to Elk Rapids, eventually extending on to Charlevoix. The approved route will include shared roadway through the village, with the trail entering Elk Rapids from the west side of US-31 at South Bayshore Drive and continuing as follows: South Bayshore Drive – Ottawa Street – Oak Street – River Street – Harbor Drive – Dexter Street (a map of the planned route is available here).

Clark says TART Trails is wrapping up engineering on the first 1.8-mile segment of the trail, which is an Acme Township connector leading from Bunker Hill Road to the M-72 and US-31 intersection, with a section running east toward the Acme Meijer store and Grand Traverse Town Center development. That project will go out to bid this winter, with TART working to close the remaining funding gap ahead of planned 2021 construction. Next up will be finalizing engineering plans for the Acme to Elk Rapids section of the trail, connecting with land owners this summer and fall to obtain easement agreements and completing design work by the end of the year. Fundraising will then follow – likely to be a significant undertaking, given the nearly 10-mile distance between Acme and Elk Rapids.

“That's the huge lift that's ahead of us still,” says Clark. “We don't have a budget yet, because engineering will tell us that, but we are working to put together a larger funding plan for the trailway. That will include working on larger gifts so when we're ready to go, we have matching dollars available for a lot of grant applications over the next year or so. We’re doing our best to move quickly and get things shovel ready.”

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