Four area municipalities will receive funding for various projects designed to add to Michigan’s regional trail system and improve walking, biking and safety while promoting connectivity.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments or SEMCOG awarded $13 (m) million in Transportation Alternatives Program or TAP funding and more than $900,000 in Planning Assistance Program funding, which is new this year. The projects selected for funding all require a 20% local match, as federal funds are involved. SEMCOG’s new Planning Assistance Program provides funding for three categories that include traffic safety, road asset management and multi-community planning. Under the latter, Highland Township and the City of Wixom will receive $50,000 each. Wixom will get funds to develop a plan to identify action-ready green infrastructure projects for the seven communities of the Norton Creek Watershed of the Huron River to address flooding and other issues. Highland Township is working with six neighboring communities to plan and coordinate demand-response bus service to serve the elderly as well as those with mental or physical disabilities.

The City of Chelsea was awarded $40,000 for traffic safety planning to conduct a road safety audit at the busy intersection of Freer Road and Dexter-Chelsea Road. SEMCOG Plan Implementation Manager Kevin Vettraino tells WHMI there’s a lot of activity and different converging going on at the T-intersection, which is also part of the future Border to Border Trail extension. He says there’s a lot of bicyclists and pedestrians but also a railroad and school nearby so the community wants to get an assessment of what options are available to improve the safety of the intersection.

The cities of Wixom and Dexter will receive Transportation Alternatives Program or TAP funding, which goes toward projects that aim to improve pedestrian safety and connectivity, as well as encourage students in grades K-8 to walk or bike to school. Wixom will be developing the MI Air Line Trail, which involves constructing a 5.5-mile 10-foot wide path for walkers and bicyclists along the Grand Trunk western railroad from roughly Haggerty Road to Wixom. That’s a larger project that M-DOT is also contributing another $1.6 (m) million toward. Vettraino says it’s exciting because when that’s done, it will connect two major trail systems through the City and serve as a connection between the West Bloomfield Trail and the Huron Valley Trail. It’s also part of the Great Lake to Lake Trail. In the City of Dexter, $313,693 will go toward a shared use path and boardwalk extension of the popular Mill Creek Trail. Vettraino says the trail will be extended one mile to the south and connect to Wylie Elementary and Mill Creek Middle School.

The funds are being awarded to communities that really wouldn’t be able to fund the projects without the assistance. Vettraino says in many cases, especially on the planning end, projects aren’t done because of tight budgets. He says hopefully with the funding, some of the planning projects can lead into implementation projects. Vettraino says they were excited by the number of good applications that came in and it was a good opportunity to provide the funding, noting communities had some really good shovel ready projects while others had really given some thought to planning projects they want to undertake. (JM)