It’s been a project years in the making and is now officially opened. Meridian Township celebrated the opening of the first phase of a new trail connecting Michigan State University (MSU) to Lake Lansing Trail on Friday (Dec. 8). The ribbon cutting ceremony was at the pedestrian bridge next to the MSU Community Music School.
Phase one of the project was made possible by many entities, including a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) federal grant and a Trails & Parks Millage from Ingham County. The one-mile trail begins at the east side of Hagadorn Road and Shaw Lane, and ends at Grand River Avenue and Park Lake Road. The trail includes a bridge over the Red Cedar River, behind the MSU Community Music School, and follows along the river banks north to the CN Railroad tracks.
Deputy Township Manager and Director of Public Works and Engineering at Meridian Township Dan Opsommer said the regional trail was years in the making.
“The MSU to Lake Lansing Trail through Meridian Township has been talked about in concept dating back to at least the 1990s,” he said. “In 2006, the township and Ingham County partnered, applied for, and secured a natural resource trust fund grant and a federal TAP grant from the Federal Highway Administration and MDOT to secure the easements and construct the trail. Those efforts ultimately proved unsuccessful due to a number of factors, including the inability to secure the necessary easements to construct the trail.
“That makes it all the more remarkable that we’re talking about opening the trail now, and that we have secured those easements and constructed it,” Opsommer said.
The township tried again in 2014 when voters approved the Ingham County Trails and Parks Millage. Officials applied for more grant funding in 2016. Today, the $3.37 million Phase One Trail is made possible from 46% of the funding from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grant, 45% from the County Trails and Parks Millage, and 9% by the Township Pathway Millage.
The regional trail will likely be used by pedestrians, cyclists, students, staff, residents and visitors.
“We foresee users all across the region utilizing it because you can use the existing Lansing River Trail which connects to the MSU Campus River Trail, which will then connect to this new MSU Lake Lansing River Trail,” Opsommer said.
“On a day-to-day basis, probably the biggest impact will be for students that live in some of the multi-family developments along Grand River Avenue because they’re going to use it as their commuter route to campus,” he added. “We also foresee a lot of faculty who live in the township utilizing it to get to and from campus and to and from work as well.”
There are three phases planned in total, with the next phases already underway. Phase two construction began in September and has an estimated completion date of June 2024. This 1.2-mile trail will connect the MSU Campus to Lake Lansing Park South. The goal is to complete the design of phase three in 2024, with construction starting in 2025. Phase three will provide a route from Marsh Road to Lake Lansing Park North. In total, all three phases will provide 6.75 miles of trail system.
“Phase II is under construction, it began in September,” he said. “We are estimating that construction will be completed in June 2024. Our goal in 2024 is to complete the design of phase three in hopes of constructing it in 2025.”
Constructing a trail along the banks of a river, dealing with floodplain and floodway challenges was tricky, but worth it, Opsommer said.
“Countless obstacles have been confronted and overcome at this point,” he said. “And we’re very excited to be celebrating the opening of the trail with the community.”
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