‘Pentwater Trail’ advocates begin next steps

November 14, 2015

rail trail extension -1Story and photos contributed by Ron Beeber.

PENTWATER — A group of avid bicyclists and area government officials seeking to improve the safety of U.S. Bicycle Route 35 between Pentwater and Hart have agreed on next steps during a recent meeting.  

Attendees have dubbed the stretch “Pentwater Trail.” They would like to see a five-mile long, 8- to 10-foot wide paved strip constructed along Wayne Road between Longbridge and Harrison roads; continue along Harrison Road to 72nd Avenue; and then along 72nd Avenue to Hart Cemetery.  

rail trail extension -2Bicyclists could easily connect to the Pentwater and Hart downtown business districts from each end of the proposed trail, as well as to the north end of the William Field Memorial Hart-Montague Bike Trail.

The project would benefit the economies of both communities because of the increasing popularity of bicycling. The trail also would serve as a recreational amenity to hikers, joggers and inline skaters.

The group has learned that multi-use trail projects like this typically receive substantial funding from two government sources. One source is the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which collects oil and gas royalties from energy companies that drill on state-owned land, and then uses the funds for outdoor recreation and natural resource protection purposes.  

The second funding source is from the Federal Highway Administration’s “Transportation Alternatives Program,” which allocates to state’s 1 percent of federal gasoline taxes paid by motorists to support non-motorized transportation projects. Monies sent to Michigan are administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation.

To receive such assistance, local matching funds will have to be raised. The ad hoc committee is discussing a process by which supporters can make tax deductible contributions through the Community Foundation for Oceana County.

The group already has met with the Oceana County Road Commission, and more exploratory meetings are being set up with other government officials.

The United States Bicycle Route System is an 8,000-mile developing network of regionally and nationally significant bicycling routes that began in 1978.  Its goal is to become the largest official cycling route network in the world.  The system identifies roadways and trails that are most suitable for long- and short-distance bicyclists who are comfortable riding with traffic.

U.S. Bike Route 35 runs 500 miles through Michigan from Indiana to Sault Ste. Marie. Earlier this year, several green and white USBR 35 signs were installed around Oceana and Mason counties to mark the cycling route from Hart to Pentwater, and from Pentwater to Ludington.

For more information about the proposed Pentwater Trail, contact Dr. Claudia Ressel-Hodan, who is facilitating the initiative, at 231.233.9717.

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