Grid president proposes plan to extend trail on Grand Blanc Road

GRAND BLANC TWP. — The Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid have a vision for extending the non-motorized trail near Bicentennial Park, and they’re hoping to work with state and local officials to accomplish their goal.

The plan involves installing a pathway with a pedestrian bridge along Grand Blanc Road south of the park from the entrance westward.

The project would add another link to the community’s extensive trail network, which is part of the state’s Iron Belle Trail system, and provide pedestrian access to the park for hundreds of residents at The Grand condominiums, Heatherwood Apartments and Thornridge Apartments.

“The many rental residents cannot get to the park; they can see it, but they can’t access it,” said Monica Shapiro, Friends’ president and the township’s citizen representative to the Metropolitan Alliance.

Ideally, construction would coincide with the second phase of the Grand Blanc Road widening project, which has been pushed back to 2023, Shapiro said.

The extension likely would add $600,000 to $1 million to the $2.8 million road reconstruction, which is being funded with federal dollars, she said.

Funding could prove to be tricky, however, because there is little time for proponents to apply for grants.

On the up side, representatives from the state Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission and Road Commission, are willing to meet with the Friends of the Grand Blanc Grid and Grand Blanc Township officials to discuss options.

In addition, the Friends group includes lawyers, engineers and grant writing professionals who are “all ready to assist with any aspect of this,” and private donors who are ready to contribute funds, Shapiro said.

She said she remains optimistic because the township has a track record for accomplishing similar projects, which “sets a precedent for future construction projects in the township going forward.”

Shapiro commended Supervisor Scott Bennett for his work in getting a nonmotorized trail built during the Dort Highway extension project.

“(Bennett) believes in pairing nonmotorized pathways with major construction jobs,” she said. “I’m also very excited to hear that you’re planning to include a path whenever the Baldwin Road redesign happens. That’s another great, great step. I’m also thrilled to hear that there seems to be a plan in the offing of the board to put sidewalks on Hill Road. That’s a huge, important go-ahead.”