County to assist in securing funding for pathway along Dort extension

GRAND BLANC TWP. — A little help from Genesee County could be the boost Grand Blanc Township needs to secure funding for a non-motorized pathway along the Dort Highway extension.

The 1.1-mile path between Cook and Baldwin roads is scheduled for construction in 2021 in coordination with the road construction.

Undertaking both projects in tandem will save the township considerable costs for engineering and wetland mitigation, said Supervisor Scott Bennett.

“If we were to wait, it would not be financially feasible,” he said.

Bennett said he is working with the county to come up with a plan and a budget.

“In the past few weeks, the county came to us and said they found some money that was left over from other projects,” said Bennett. “It’s getting close to D-Day where we need to actually commit some dollars to it.”

In a recent decision, the Downtown Development Authority unanimously voted to commit some funding, although they did not specify a number, he said.

“They felt the economic and development benefits were very much leaning toward helping the township and the DDA,” Bennett said.

He also hopes to use some funds generated by the parks and recreation millage.

“In total, we’re probably looking at maybe less than $50,000 from each entity,” he said.

Completion of the trail will put the township in a better position to receive additional grants “because we will be able to show we can produce what we say we will,” Bennett said.

Federal funding may be available to extend the township’s trail system down the Baldwin Road corridor to Saginaw Street.

“We also would seek funding for our Cook Road to Embury (path) which would tie the Cook Road area in to the Bicentennial (Park), which will also be part of the Iron Belle Trail,” Bennett said. “(That) opens up a huge amount of trails to the Grand Blanc residents.”

The Iron Belle Trail is a series of non-motorized pathways that the state Department of Natural Resources hopes will link together one day and create a contiguous trail from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula. The trail, which is about 70 percent complete, will run for 1,273 miles.

“The other thing is the Genesys trails,” Bennett said. “They were planning to expand their trail system. So, theirs would tie-in to ours on the Dort Highway extension. It opens up the Genesys pathways to people throughout Grand Blanc. Anyone who can get to the Bicentennial Pathway can access the healthcare park.”