By Jim Newell
Orion Township is a mile closer to connecting the Paint Creek and Polly Ann trails with the completion of a portion of the Clarkston Road safety path last week.
Bikers and pedestrians can now use the path, which consists of an elevated wooden boardwalk along the north side of Clarkston Road near Camp Agawam.
The township held an official ribbon cutting ceremony on Oct. 25, with Orion Township Supervisor Chris Barnett speaking about the importance of the Clarkston Road path.
“This is a great day not only for the Orion community, but anyone in Northern Oakland County who enjoys outdoor recreation” Barnett said. “This project is the culmination of many different stakeholder groups willing to dream big, and then roll up their sleeves and get the job done; a true team effort.”
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) were installed to warn motorists of pedestrians in the crosswalk crossing from the southside of Clarkston Road at Camp Agawam to the northside of the road.
Construction of the pathway along Clarkston Road is also necessary for Orion Township to achieve designation as part of the Iron Belle Trail system. The final section of the path connecting M-24 to the Polly Ann Trail along Clarkston Road will be completed in 2018.
The Clarkston Road safety path will extend from M-24 west to Joslyn Road near Orion Oaks Elementary.
The elevated wooden boardwalk sections are 700 feet and 900 feet and were necessary to cover the uneven and marshy terrain.
The township received two grants of $300,000 each and a $25,000 engineering grant to help pay for the $1.2 million project, Barnett said.
The township paid for the remaining costs from its Safety Path Fund and the Waste Management Host Fee Fund.
The Paint Creek Trail is 8.9 miles long and runs from Rochester, through Rochester Hills and Oakland Township and into Orion Township and the Village of Lake Orion on the east side of M-24. The Village of Lake Orion is currently working on getting its trail extension officially recognized as part of the Paint Creek Trail.
By connecting the Paint Creek Trail with the Polly Ann Trail, the township will be able to have the trail system through Orion included as part of the Iron Belle Trail.
Both trails are an important part of the Iron Belle Trail, which links Ironwood at the western edge of the Upper Peninsula with Belle Isle on the Detroit River, Barnett said.
The ribbon cutting on Wednesday was attended by Safety Path Advisory Committee members Mike Brinkmann, Taylor Reynolds, Jerry Richards and B C Cotter.
Township Treasurer Donni Steele and Township Trustees Mike Flood and Brian Birney and Operations Director Jeff Stout were there to support the efforts of the Committee.
Sharon Berridge, the lone property owner on this section of safety path, cut the ribbon opening the path for walkers and cyclists. Bike rider George Ingram took advantage of it right away, the supervisor’s office said.
Merrie Carlock, of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, spoke of the grants the township has received for this project and others in the community, now totaling close to $1 million. The funds came from the DNR Trust Fund, which is funded by the gas and oil royalties the State receives from drilling done on State properties, according to a press release from Barnett’s office.
Jason Jones, owner of Grindstone Construction, which constructed the elevated boardwalk portion of the Clarkston Road path, was singled out for effort he and his crew put forth, along with Frank Baiardi and his team at Superior Excavating.
Representatives of OHM Advisors, the township’s consulting engineers who designed the path were also recognized.