The City of Dearborn’s grant request to help fund the extension of the Rouge River Gateway Trail will move on for approval by the state Legislature, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund announced this week.
The MNRTF board of trustees included the $280,000 grant request in its list of 76 recreation and development projects and land acquisitions totaling $23,538,700 that the board recommended to be funded in 2013 by the state.
Dearborn’s project—the only one included in the list from Wayne County—would extend the trail from its current start point near Andiamo Dearborn west to Ford Field, wrapping around the back of the restaurant and exiting onto Brady Street near Morley.
The two-mile trail runs north through the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford Community College campuses, eventually connecting with Hines Drive.
The trail extension cost has been estimated at $500,000-$600,000. It's not clear where the rest of the funding would come from at this point.
The city had originally applied for a similar grant through the MDRTF to complete the project in 2008, but it was denied. They also applied for a grant through the Michigan Department of Transportation in 2011—at which point they had agreed to fund the rest of the cost—but MDOT did not approve that grant.
Dearborn Recreation and Parks Department officials believe the trail extension will help alleviate traffic and safety problems caused by bicyclists and pedestrians walking along Michigan Avenue to get to the trailhead.
"We’ve had some near accidents at that location because of heavy traffic," Recreation Director Greg Orner explained at a meeting on the trail last December. "We believe it will be a much safer access if we can build a trail system that goes behind Andiamo’s and behind the Historical Museum.”
The MNRTF board this year considered a total of 142 applications seeking $37,880,200 in funding. In a competitive process, all eligible applications were evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the MNRTF board.
The MNRTF board can recommend funding for both development projects and acquisitions to local and state agencies.
They were also instrumental in funding . That grant was matched by $115,000 in funding from the City of Dearborn.
"The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund provides tremendous support to communities that want to offer residents and visitors quality recreation opportunities, while ensuring broad public access to hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation in Michigan’s special, scenic places," said Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh.
The board’s recommendations will go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. It's not clear when those recommendations will be approved or denied.
A list of the final recommendations made by the Trust Fund board is available at www.michigan.gov/mnrtf.