The development of the Border to Border Trail has always been known for its potential for creating a walkaway across Washtenaw County for pedestrians and bicyclists ...and for the sizable gaps that keep it from doing just that.
Advocates for the trail have been pushing to bridge those gaps this year, which include closing small breaks in the county’s big cities and creating large sections in its more rural areas. The idea is to get more of the region's non-motorized traffic off the road and onto the Border To Border Trail.
"You avoid putting a whole bunch of cyclists and pedestrians on the same road," says Bob Krzewanski, chair of the Friends of the Border To Border Trail
. "Motorists usually don't look for cyclists and pedestrians."
A couple of those major gaps that advocates want to close include small but critical sections in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti has budgeted money to build a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River at Riverside Park and Michigan Avenue, which will enable it to connect the Water Street development, downtown, and Depot Town, through the Border To Border Trail and its park system.
Ann Arbor is making plans to build a pedestrian bridge over the Huron River, too, this time where Maiden Lane crosses the river near the University of Michigan Health Center. Currently, users of the Border To Border Trail need to cross the vehicular bridge next to traffic. Creating a smaller pedestrian bridge underneath it will provide some much needed space between people and cars.
"It (the Maiden Lane bridge) was built with space underneath," says Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition
. "There are concrete pads there where the trail bridge should go."
Both Deck and Krzewanski are optimistic that funding packages for both projects could come to fruition within the next year and construction starts soon after.
There are larger gaps in the Border To Border further outside the cities, such as a smaller section at the very eastern edge of Washtenaw County and a large section between Ann Arbor and Dexter.
"The segment in between Ann Arbor and Dexter is problematic," Krzewanski says. "To get it off road you need to get private property easements."
But both are confident these sorts of large projects will get done within the next few years, despite the obstacles ahead. They see a growing demand for this sort of recreational opportunity as what will really make a complete version of the Border To Border Trail a reality.
"A lot of people say they would go out to walk or bike if they has some place to do it," Krzewanski says. "This gives them that opportunity."
Source: Larry Deck, board member of the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition; and Bob Krzewanski, chair of the Friends of the Border To Border Trail
Writer: Jon Zemke
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