$3.5M Grant Pushes B2B Closer to Completion


"To the Women Leaders of Michigan" statue is one of the many scenic spots on the B2B. This reflective pause overlooks Green Lake and is located near the B2B tunnel under M52, several miles north of Chelsea. Photo by Doug Marrin.

These are exciting times for many outdoor enthusiasts.

Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI) announced it had been awarded a $3.5 million grant in matching funds from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The grant is the largest to date in HPWI’s history.

“HWPI would like to thank the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for their tremendous support of our project, and continued leadership in bettering the Southeast Michigan community,” stated HPWI in a statement. “We deeply appreciate the trust that the Board of Directors, President and CEO Dave Egner, and Director of the Parks and Trails Initiative, JJ Tighe, have placed in us through this grant.”

The funds will further develop non-motorized shared pathways throughout Southeast Michigan. Money will be distributed over the next three years and matched by a combination of public dollars and private funding raised by HWPI.

Image: b2btrail.org

HPWI’s mission is to facilitate the development of non-motorized recreational trails and to link Michigan’s existing network of shared pathways. HWPI primarily works with the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPRC) to construct the Border-to-Border Trail (B2B). HPWI is a private fund-raising organization for the B2B. WCPRC plans, builds, and maintains the trail.

Of the grant’s funds, $1.5 million will go to the construction of the B2B. Currently, the trail consists of approximately 35 miles of a non-continuous pathway in Washtenaw County. When completed, the B2B will traverse 44 miles from one end of the county to the other. The grant money will significantly contribute to closing the remaining nine miles of gaps in the trail.

The Iron Belle Trail is actually two trails. The blue route is the hiking route, and the red is the biking. Image: MDNR

The remaining $2 million of the grant will go towards the development of a new segment of the Iron Belle Trail (IBT) in Van Buren Township, which broke ground this week. Van Buren Township is in Wayne County, adjacent to Washtenaw County. This portion of the pathway will connect the eastern end of the B2B to Belleville and beyond to the Lower Huron Metropark.

When completed, the IBT will connect existing trail systems to create a route stretching from Ironwood at the western end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit. The trail system will be two routes, one for hiking and one for biking. The IBT will utilize almost all of the B2B, which passes through Chelsea and Dexter.

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