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| 3 min read | by Lonnie Huhman, lhuhman@thesuntimesnews.com |

The Border-to-Border Trail project is a unique effort wherever it goes, and the section going through Lyndon Township demonstrates this well.

The Chelsea-Stockbridge Connection phase is a 2.1 mile segment picking up where the first phase ends and will pass along the edge of Green Lake, cross into the Pinckney Recreation Area, and re-emerge at North Territorial Road.

Peter Sanderson, Principal Park Planner & Landscape Architect for the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission, is the project lead for this phase that includes the Lyndon Township trail, trailhead, and tunnel for the B2B.

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Sanderson said the WCPARC is working in partnership with Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative, the Washtenaw County Road Commission, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation on these projects.

The project has started after being bid out last summer with work starting this past fall. A public meeting was held on January 16, 2019, at Lyndon Township Hall to discuss the planned construction of the trailhead parking lot, trail project, and the tunnel.

Sanderson said the trailhead is going to be a 50 car parking lot and will be the first dedicated parking area for B2B in the county. He said there are other parking areas in the county, but they are typically part of existing parks and facilities, whereas this one is purpose-built.

He said the trailhead will have maps, rules, potable water, and a restroom, and it’s intended to serve the B2B trail system that is to the south of it (eventually north too, but that is a future project). He said the trailhead is being constructed on DNR land by WCPARC and it will be maintained by WCPARC.

The site is adjacent to the Lyndon Township Hall and Sanderson said the land was previously cleared for a home site prior to being incorporated into the Pinckney Recreation Area (buildings demolished years ago.)

Sanderson said the trailhead will also serve a gravel nature trail being constructed on DNR land that will provide Universal Access to two accessible blinds (nature observation and hunting depending on the season). He said the blinds were constructed by UAW workers in partnership with Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors (MIOFO) (miofo.org) who helps disabled veterans enjoy the outdoors. The blinds were donated to the DNR who will operate them in partnership with MIOFO.

The southern part of the trail is being built in two phases, the first phase (Werkner Road at M-52 to the Green Lake Campground Access Road) is 2.6 miles long and was completed in the fall of 2018, according to Sanderson.

He said the second phase is under construction now (Green Lake Campground to North Territorial Road) and is 2.1 miles long.

To minimize environmental impacts, Sanderson said the second phase of the trail project (under construction) makes use of several segments of old roadbed (M-92) that were abandoned when M-52 was constructed.

Sanderson said the tunnel part of the project comes in because a crossing of M-52 is needed because of Green Lake (too difficult and environmentally impactful to traverse the lake and adjacent wetlands).

“Originally, we had planned for an “at-grade” crossing of M-52, mainly due to the cost associated with constructing a tunnel,” he said. “Some of HWPI’s private donors thought that the idea was not safe and chose to contribute to the project with the express purpose of funding the tunnel and making a safer crossing. More than $900,000 was raised in the Chelsea area specifically for the tunnel.”

He said the tunnel also links the east and west sides of the road, forming a link between the Pinckney Recreation Area and Waterloo Recreation Area.

WCPARC will own and maintain the tunnel, Sanderson said. The tunnel is approximately 16’ wide, 70’ long and 10’ tall and it will have lighting on the interior.

The two phases of the trail projects are funded by two Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) grants (MDOT funding), a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant (MDNR) to Lyndon Township (no general funding from Lyndon is used), funding from Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission (WCPARC), and private funding through the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), according to Sanderson.

He said the trailhead parking area is mostly being funded by HWPI (private) but WCPARC is putting some funds into it.

The tunnel is being mostly funded privately by HWPI with some funding coming from WCPARC.

Tunnel construction will begin in the spring. Sanderson said they are targeting everything opening at once in the late spring/early summer.

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