Update on the Northwest Passage trail plan in Dexter Township

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The planning for a pathway connection from Dexter Township into the Pinckney community is moving along.

An update on what’s called the Northwest Passage trail was given at the Dexter Township Board meeting on April 19.

Board trustee Karen Sikkenga, who is the township’s representative on this project, said they recently received the concept preliminary planning report from consultant Beckett & Raeder and it included a proposed final route.

The report is the beginning stages of the project. Sikkenga said the parties that funded this initial preliminary design project are the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative (HWPI), Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) and Dexter Township. She said the proposed route is entirely in Metropark land.

“They have participated in all the planning meetings and are supportive of the project,” Sikkenga said of the Metroparks (Hudson Mills).

Sikkenga emphasized during the township board meeting that the proposed route is contingent on getting permits and land use.

In follow up by The Sun Times News (STN), Sikkenga said the route in the report basically links from Hudson Mills near North Territorial under the bridge and continues alongside the river for a mile or two, then crosses into Stinchfield Woods with a signalized mid-block crossing.

The preliminary budget is between $1.7 and $2.7 million, with the budget estimates based on a preferred route. The cost ranges are for crushed limestone, 8-foot asphalt or 10-foot asphalt with 2-foot shoulders.

Sikkenga said by email that, “The highest cost option ($2.7 million) would be eligible for MDOT Transportation Alternative Funds of up to 80 percent for construction ($1.2M of the total project cost – MDOT doesn’t contribute to “soft costs”), so ironically the most expensive option sometimes ends up being the most financially feasible.”

HWPI is the lead on this project. Sikkenga said they are a fundraising and project management entity.

“At this time, there have been no decisions about fundraising or project management,” she said. “Beckett & Raeder is currently preparing documents that can be used to satisfy grant submittal requirements of WCPARC, the DNR Trust Fund, and MDOT TAP, among others. Typically on a trail project, grants might be the backbone and then a fundraising entity or the project lead raises funds for the local match. At this time, which of these entities would be the project lead hasn’t been determined.”

STN asked what a possible schedule might look like and Sikkenga said in terms of timeline, “I imagine this will be several years out. Often it is 3-5 years from preliminary design to execution.”

This is just phase one of the overall plan.

Planning, being led by the HWPI, for a separate project phase is also underway that would see the trail continue within Stinchfield Woods. Ultimately, the hope and plan is to connect Hudson Mills Metropark to the Mike Levine Lakelands Trail in Pinckney.

Here's a map of the proposed Northwest Passage route, which is a concept and still being planned. provided by the Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative
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