On a section of the Macomb Orchard Trail that bridges the Clinton River, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, County Board Chairwoman Kathy Vosburg and others gathered Tuesday to mark the completion of the trail section connecting Bruce Township to Richmond.
Before a ribbon-cutting, government officials praised the years of work that led up to finishing the leg of hike-and-bike trail. The 24-mile, paved trail runs from Shelby Township up through Washington Township, Bruce Township, Romeo, Armada Township, the Village of Armada and east to Richmond.
The project also included rehabilitating the bridge spanning the North Branch of the Clinton River, where the ceremony was held.
The final trail section cost about $1.3 million. The total trail was about $8 million to build, with about 80 percent covered by federal funding, said Macomb County Director of Roads Robert Hoepfner.
Miller said it was important for communities to invest in such “quality-of-life” projects. The trail allows for healthy activity and can be used by people of all ages, she said.
“There are the naysayers who say you should never spend transportation dollars on (a) trail system,” the congresswoman added. “You can sort of understand that in some ways, but I really look at these trails as long, linear parks…”
Citing Macomb County's population increase of nearly 530,000 people during the last decade, Hackel said that part of the reason for the influx was due to such community development.
Being paved, the trail is wheelchair accessible as well, said Macomb County Commissioner Don Brown. As people use the trail, he added, it draws visitors into the communities through which it passes.
When the trail concept first came forward more than 10 years ago, many were skeptical that it would ever happen, Brown said. But the project was completed through the efforts and persistence of many individuals, he said.
While Tuesday's ceremony marked the completion of the main trail-way, the project isn't complete. Eventually, the Macomb Orchard Trail is to be a part of a that spans throughout the region, including in New Baltimore, Shelby Township and other Macomb County communities.
“It has been a complete team effort to make this (Macomb Orchard Trail) a reality,” Miller said.