The trail along Mill Creek, pictured here on Jan. 31, near downtown Dexter.
photo by Lonnie Huhman

By Lonnie Huhman,

To meet popular demand, the city of Dexter is moving forward on planning the second phase of the Mill Creek trail.

City officials said they are currently planning for construction to occur in the fall of 2019. Until then this is good news for those in the community who love to walk, bike, run and, in general, enjoy the trail that runs along Mill Creek.


At the Jan. 28 meeting, the Dexter City Council unanimously approved moving forward with planning phase 2 of the trail.

Justin Breyer, assistant to the Dexter City Manager/ City Clerk, said the city knows this phase will be welcomed by the community. He said since this trail segment does not cross any roads, there should not be any impact to traffic during construction.

“Based on community input collected during the city’s 2016 Parks and Recreation Master Plan update, construction of the Phase 2 Trail was the most desired parks-related project,” Breyer said.

He said phase two, “seeks to continue the implementation of the Mill Creek Park Master Plan.”

“The long-term goal of this plan is to provide both internal-city and regional trail connections by connecting Mill Creek Park to Shield Road via non-motorized pathway,” Breyer said. “Phase two of Mill Creek Park involves the construction of a trail that connects Mill Creek Park and downtown to Creekside Intermediate School at Baker Road.”

He said the trail will run adjacent to Mill Creek and will be approximately one mile in length.

The cost of the trail is approximately $1.1 million, according to Breyer.

“To cover some of the cost, the city applied for and received a $313,000 grant from SEMCOG’s-Southeast Michigan Council of Governments- Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), and $300,000 grant from Washtenaw County’s Connecting Communities Program,” Breyer said. “While the city is still investigating other potential sources of grant funding, any remaining costs will come from the city.”

In moving forward, the city’s planning for the second phase will not involve two segments, known as segments 9 and 11.

Breyer said segment 9 involves the construction of a trail segment that would connect with an easement provided across private property to allow trail users to get on and off the trail at Grand Street. He said it would also create, “a nice loop for users to walk and bike.”

“However, since this segment of trail would be mostly boardwalk, the cost of construction is significant,” according to Breyer. “Removing this segment as part of phase two construction makes the cost of the project more feasible; additionally, there is a strong likelihood that the segment with which the segment connects will not be constructed in 2019. While this segment is still a part of the Mill Creek Park Master Plan, it will likely be delayed to a future phase.”

He said the concept for segment 11 involves running sidewalk down Grand Street in front of Forest Lawn Cemetery to provide a connection between Segment 9 and Mill Creek Park.

“This piece was not included as part of the city’s original grant proposals because any segment constructed with Transportation Alternatives Grant Program funding are required to meet federal design standards – this means 14 foot clearance for segments of boardwalk and 10 foot wide asphalt with 2 foot gravel shoulders on either side of the asphalt path,” according to Breyer. “Instead, the city may construct this segment as standard-width concrete sidewalk during a future project.”

Breyer said phase one of Mill Creek Park included, “everything that a visitor sees when looking towards Mill Creek from Jeffords St., Forest Lawn Cemetery, and the Fire Station/Sheriff’s Substation, or when looking down from the Dexter Farmers Market.”

He said phase one of Mill Creek Park began with the removal of the Main Street dam impoundment, which drained the pond, formerly, located adjacent to Jeffords Street, and exposed a large tract of land. The city used the opportunity to take that land, he said, and sculpt it into Mill Creek Park.

“Phase 1 included the construction of the existing boardwalk loop, concrete switchback path, the amphitheater rocks, boat launches, and the circular overlook platforms along Jeffords Street,” Breyer said. “This project also incorporated the former Warrior Creek Park, located below the Farmers Market. The city held a ribbon-cutting for Phase 1 of Mill Creek Park in 2012.”

He said phase three of Mill Creek Park would seek to continue the non-motorized trail following along Mill Creek to finish the connection between Mill Creek Park and Shield Road.


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