Examining rail trail extension to Pentwater among topics of June 11 meeting

June 2, 2015
A view along the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail last fall.

A view along the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail last fall.

PENTWATER — Bicycling on roads and trails is increasingly popular, and more cyclists are being attracted to Pentwater. But some ask whether routes could be made safer?  Should more be done to promote Pentwater as a bicycling destination? Is the idea of better connecting Pentwater to the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Trail now worth pursuing?

A one-hour public meeting is set for Thursday, June 11, at 1:30 p.m at the Pentwater Village Hall. Topics include relevant biking developments; the biking market’s current and potential economic impact on village businesses; and a review of the earlier discussions about extending the Hart-Montague trail to Pentwater.

“Our purpose on June 11 is to gauge public interest in forming a biking study committee,” said meeting moderator Claudia Ressel-Hodan, who is leading an innovative Pentwater Downtown Development Authority plan to soon offer visitors the free use of loaner bicycles on a short-term basis.

The idea about making Pentwater friendlier to bicyclists was raised during the recent community discussions about ways to sustain Pentwater that took place at the three-day Small Harbor Sustainability design charrette. Some area residents believe there is growing public interest in forming a study committee of interested folks who would explore questions, such as: what do bicycle enthusiasts need? and which routes that now or could exist are most attractive to cyclists wanting to pedal to Pentwater? Ultimately, the committee would make recommendations on what it believes are the most feasible next steps.

According to the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, Michigan is the nation’s “Number One Trails State” with 2,712 miles of rail trails. This includes the 22-mile Hart-Montague trail, which has created a successful recreation and economic development corridor.

The Hart-Montague trail is being rebuilt this summer. The $4.5 million project entails re-paving the entire trail, widening it from 8 feet to 10 feet across. Work crews are tackling the project in three approximate eight-mile sections, beginning at the south end, officials said.

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