Safe Routes grant approved for pathways near Swartz Creek schools

SWARTZ CREEK — The Michigan Department of Transportation has approved a $635,790 Safe Routes to School grant for construction of pathways near Swartz Creek Middle School and Syring and Elms Road elementary schools.

The City of Swartz Creek, Swartz Creek Community Schools and the Crim Foundation partnered in the pursuit of the Safe Routes grant.

Near Syring Elementary, the grant will pay for installation of 5-foot wide sidewalks on the west side of Seymour Road between First Baptist Church to north of Oakview Drive and between Young Drive and Miller Road.

At the middle school, it will pay for a crosswalk with flashing beacon and signage on Morrish Road between Grove and Wade streets, a 10-foot wide path along the north side of the creek between Morrish Road and Fairchild Street, and improvements to the pedestrian crossing at Fairchild Street and Cappy Lane.

At Elms Road Elementary, the plan calls for the installation of a 10-foot wide path along the north side of Bristol Road from the vicinity of the Heritage Village subdivision to the southeast corner of school campus.

The Elms pathway will effectively complete a small segment of the extension of the Genesee Valley Trail that the city has had on its wish list for some time.

City officials have worked for years to secure about 87 percent of the funding for the estimated $1 million extension that would take the trail from Norko Drive to Elms Park.

They’re still waiting for word the Michigan Department of Natural Resources on their application for a Trust Fund grant for about $300,000.

Two years ago, the state Department of Transportation awarded the city a $600,000 Transportation Alternatives Program grant contingent upon the city obtaining an additional 35 percent of the total cost, which the DNR grant would cover.

Ultimately, city officials hope to continue the trail from Elms Park along the Swartz Creek to Abrams Park and the western city limits, and connect to the state’s Iron Belle Trail which will run from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.