The idea to have a hike and bike path where the old Canadian National Railroad was running seemed like a recreation dream 10 years ago.
Now, Shelby Township residents aren't the only ones enjoying that dream on a daily basis, so are the local businesses.
Shelby Township businesses along the trail are seeing an increase in trail use, and they say that increase is bringing people in their doors.
A salesperson at Elaine's Bagels at 25 Mile and Shelby Road says that as soon they see people using the trail and coming in to eat. The trail literally goes across the driveway of the shopping area. "More people are on their bikes or running and will stop in for a cool beverage," said Marie Messawar of Elaine's Bagels.
"This trail is such an economic benefit to the local Macomb County communities. There are hundreds of people on the trail on any given day, walking, biking, running, and roller blading," said John Crumm, director of planning with Macomb County Road Department.
The asphalt will be completed soon, too. Shelby residents will then be able to jump on the trail and ride straight through to the city of Richmond on a completely paved surface.
"We expect with the new asphalt that even more will begin to utilize our linear park," Crumm said. "We also are rebuilding the bridge in the Armada section and that should be completed in August, as well. There are some really picturesque spots on the trail. It really is a jewel for our communities."
The owner of Dairy Queen on the opposite side of the same intersection said they try to lure trail goers into their store. "We put signs out saying we're open to let people know we're here," said Teresa Matthews. "So many people come here from the trail and they share with others that we are here. I've had people come from the Birmingham area on the trail."
Employers and employees also get to enjoy the trail. According to an economic benefit study of trails and greenways, companies seeking to relocate or establish a corporate headquarters have cited the availability of trails as a significant factor in choosing a locale.
Trail Events Boosts Awareness
According another study on trail events, events on a trail will introduce people to new places and new activities. All of this also helps boost the economy. In 2006 when phase one of the Macomb Orchard Trail was completed, Macomb County hosted a running event on the trail, the Apple Blossom Run. That 9K run, which went from Roberts Elementary School to the trail head start, off Dequindre to the Glacier Club Golf Course in Washington, is now an annual event in April.
Washington Township choose to have an event on the trail in their community in hopes of bringing new people to town and providing a fun activity as well. They had almost 100 participants in their recent 5K/10K Run as part of the Washington Township Festival. "The race brings new faces to our community and shows them all what we have to offer," said Township Supervisor Dan O'Leary.
Another event coming up soon on the trail is the second Romeo 2 Richmond Half Marathon 5K Run on Sept. 18, with some 1,000-plus participants expected. With a larger scale event like this, people are expected to come from all over Michigan and even out of state.
Having events like the Romeo2Richmond race help to promote the trail and boost the economy in the communities by bringing people to town.
"We had people from out of state last year and expect this year to bring even more from outside of Macomb County and outside of Michigan. This is just another benefit of having the Macomb Orchard Trail here in Macomb County," Crumm said. "Not only does the trail provide recreation but it can bring people from a far to our communities daily and for large events too. More people means more spending."