The Niles Township portion of the trail has been approved and mostly funded by Michigan state officials. Much of the trail in the City of Niles has already been built as has most of the Indiana portion. An engineering firm has recommended that the trail cross US-12 in Niles Township at grade with a stoplight: this means no expensive tunnel or bridge. MDOT and the MDNR have conditionally approved $842,000 in funding. The approved project, however, is being questioned by some members of the Niles Township Board. They are concerned about safety of pedestrians and cyclists crossing US-12 at a stoplight. The board has the power to delay, or even halt the trail’s construction.
Harry Thibault, the Niles Charter Township Park Commission Chairman has said that now is a time when cyclists and pedestrians should show their support for the trail. A critical meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 4 at the Niles Township Hall, 320 Bell Road, Niles, MI. (South side of Bell Road about 2 blocks west of the Shelton’s Farm market that is located on the NW corner of 933/51 and Bell Road). As with all things political, the discussion may never take place, but it looks like a go. Thibault expects the board will thrash out whether to continue to approve the crossing at US-12, or delay the project indefinitely. Cyclist, walkers and runners are urged to attend and show their support for the trail’s completion.
Read an article in The Leader newspaper for more details. And read a position paper written by the Niles Township Park Commission Chairman for more details on the various options. You can also read some background information.