FLINT TWP. — Negotiations are underway to resolve a problem that halted construction last week on a portion of the 2.69-mile Genesee Valley Trail.
Claiming financial hardship, Muffler Man at 3455 Corunna Rd. filed a lawsuit on August 2 to prevent construction of the recreational path from taking away a portion of its parking lot. The portion in question is from a street vacated years ago with the west half going to Muffler Man and the east half adjacent to the I-75 freeway remaining as government right-of-way.
Robert Bernhoft, president of Muffler Man Supply, said he met Monday with officials from Flint Township, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Genesee County Road Commission to try to work out a solution.
“We are looking at various options, none I can specify, as to who owns the land and who has rights to the land,’’ Bernhoft said. One solution his architect proposed was to decrease the path’s width from ten-feet to eight-feet which would solve the problem and save the expense of having to sawcut through the concrete parking lot and remove a utility pole in the proposed path of the trail.
Bernhoft said on Tuesday that the lawsuit still is pending but he is optimistic about the outcome of the meeting. Concerned parties plan to meet again next week to discuss findings, he said.
“Hopefully we can come up with something that works for everybody. We’re just trying to run our business,” he said. “We are not against the bike path.”
John H. Daly III, road commission director, confirmed that work has stopped on the portion of the trail in question but said that company policy is not to comment on matters under litigation.
Township Supervisor Karyn Miller did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Miller had said last week before the lawsuit was filed that she expected the long-awaited bicycle and pedestrian trail to be completed by early fall.
Zito Construction of Grand Blanc has been awarded the contract to build it. When completed, the 10-foot-wide asphalt trail will start at Corunna Road near the Atlas Coney Island restaurant, head west over the I-75 bridge then south along I-75 to the abandoned railroad tracks, Miller said.
Orange barrels and construction equipment positioned on Corunna, Dutcher and Lennon roads mark parts of the trail where work is in progress. The portion behind Muffler Man has been sealed off with orange construction fencing.
Crews were to have begun work on the part of the trail over the bridge at I-75 this week, Miller said.
The trail was conceived about a year ago, when the township board of trustees called a special meeting to approve it in time to meet funding deadlines.
Since then, effort has mainly focused on raising $42,000 in engineering fees. Thanks to numerous private and public donations and grants, all but about $6,000 has been raised. The bulk of funding for the project is from $1,021,643 in Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) federal dollars.