By LOU MUMFORD
South Bend Tribune
9:26 PM EST, February 4, 2013
NILES -- The 34-mile recreation trail winding through Niles, Roseland, South Bend and Mishawaka is "mostly built'' and "almost there,'' according to a transportation official who updated the Niles Township Board Monday night on the trail's progress.
The Southwestern Michigan Planning Commission's Marcy Colclough said only three miles of the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail remain to be built in Indiana and a little more than five miles are awaiting construction in Michigan, with the latter all in Niles Township.
It's expected engineering for the first phase of the trail in the township, from the Indiana-Michigan line to the Brandywine Creek Nature Preserve just north of U. S. 12, will be completed over the next few months and construction will take place between April and August in 2014. Part II, a mile and a quarter stretch linking the trail between the preserve and the south end of the existing trail at
Third and Fort streets in Niles, is likely the following year or in 2016.
As for funding, two state grants, one for $415,000 and the other $286,000, are anticipated for the first phase but the township will need to provide a $141,000 local match. Approval is likely, at least for the $286,000 grant which according to Colclough scored the highest of any grant application in the state last year.
For the second phase, a $178,000 local match is needed to leverage some $433,000 in state grants.
Although there was little concern registered regarding the local matches, there was as far as the trail's crossing of U.S. 12. Trustee Christine Vella said she's not aware of a trail anywhere in Michigan that crosses a state highway while Supervisor Jim Stover indicated he, too, is apprehensive about the prospect of a proposed at-grade crossing.
Asked if a tunnel is a possibility, Colclough said it is but pointed out it would be expensive and require a sizeable local match.
Also at the meeting, a Bond Street couple who complained about the condition of their road south of Fort Street received general agreement from the board that the road is in bad shape but little reassurance that the Berrien County Road Commission will be able to do anything about it. Stover said a meeting with the commission is set for Feb. 28.
"We'll see what their game plan is,'' he said.
Staff writer Lou Mumford:
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