New 60-Mile Bike Trail to Stretch from Michigan to Chicago
| 3 min read
Each year, more bike trails and lanes are being built to satisfy our state’s growing number of pedaling enthusiasts. From urban road bike lanes to twisty mountain bike trails to gravel bike corridors, new bike pathways are connecting cities to suburbs while others are becoming recreation destinations. One of the newest bike trails being planned will be part of a greenway path that runs through three states, with Michigan at its northernmost point.
When complete, the Marquette Greenway is expected to be a 60-mile corridor stretching from Calumet Park in Chicago, through a section of northern Indiana, and up into New Buffalo, Michigan. The greenway will essentially trace the bottom curve of southern Lake Michigan. It will offer stops and short connecting corridors to parks and recreation areas along the way, including two entry points along Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the newest national park property that sits along Lake Michigan, just south of Michigan’s border.
Trail highlights. Some highlights of the Marquette Greenway, according to the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission:
- The nearly 60-mile corridor encompasses an area that is ecologically, geographically and economically diverse.
- The trail will connect an estimated 130,000 residents who live within a half-mile of the corridor.
- There will be several points where people can access the Lake Michigan shoreline.
- The non-motorized trail will be open to walkers, bikers and runners. In the winter, snowshoes and cross-country skis can be used.
- The wide, paved trail is being designed to be accessible.
Decades of planning. Planning, design work and fundraising for the project continues. Of the nearly 60 miles, 22 miles already are built. Another 32 miles in Indiana are fully funded, and the remaining 4 miles that make up Michigan’s short section are partially funded, according to a recent update from the Friends of Berrien County Trails nonprofit group that is spreading the word about what’s still needed for our home section.
“Only the 4 miles in Michigan are partially funded and there is one mile in Indiana still in the planning stages. Our team is working to fund and build ~4 miles for the Michigan portion of the trail, from the Indiana state line to downtown New Buffalo,” the nonprofit group said in a project update on its website. “With federal, state and foundation grants and local municipal support, we have over $5 million secured to build the trail, but we need to raise approximately $300,000 to complete the trail in Michigan. The Pokagon Fund was the first to provide grant funding for the Michigan portion of the Marquette Greenway. Their contribution was critical in securing the federal and state grants. The project is in final design and construction is slated to start in early 2023.”
The Department of Transportation, The National Park Service and more than a dozen municipalities and other regional groups have funneled grant funding and matching dollars into the project.
Planning for this huge corridor began in 2003. At that time, lawmakers in Indiana – where the bulk of the greenway is being built – wanted to develop a plan for their state’s section of Lake Michigan shoreline as industrial use began to wane. The hope was to find a use that could reclaim that lakeshore area with beautiful views into something a lot of people could use for recreation. A non-motorized trail that allowed for accessibility and many uses was the winning plan.
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