By Sterling McGinn

A local non-motorized path has been an idea and a dream of area resident Roxanna Transit for some time now. Transit is now eyeing the possibility of a path running along the west side of highway M-123 north of Newberry.

Transit has proposed an 8-foot-wide paved trail to run from the railroad tracks at the north end of the village north to Four Mile Corner, traveling parallel to M-123 on the west side of the road. Paved bike paths are becoming a trend in the state, with well-known trails in Marquette, Escanaba as well as one running along highway 131 going to Petoskey.

Though plans are not yet determined, Transit believes the new trail should run on the west side of M-123 due to a 78-foot easement there, which is under the control of the state. This would also help riders avoid a need to cross the busy highway to visit the Logging Museum or other destinations. A wooden bridge would have needed to cross the Tahquamenon River, she said.

“The goal is for people to walk along the trail or for a five-year-old to be able to ride his bike with no risk,” she said.

Once the project is finished, a guard rail would also be needed to be placed between the path and the highway.

Transit, who is originally from the area, relocated back to Luce County after residing for 25 years in lower Michigan.

“In living downstate, you could see all of the development of non-motorized pathways,” Transit said. “There are massive trail systems that are paved and are used by walkers, rollerbladers, bikers and skateboarders. We have the natural beauty they don’t have, and it would be a perfect place to have a non-motorized pathway that everyone could use.”

She believes it is needed here.

Transit has been making phone calls and contacted all the local, state and national representatives and senators for suggestions for grants, processes and procedures. She has also talked to the DNR at the local and state levels as well as Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT)

In her research, Transit discovered that MDOT has a specific grant for non-motorized trails. The engineering estimate is the first step in the grant writing process along with the sponsorship from a governmental group other than a county board. Since the bike path would begin in McMillan Township, Transit found that the logical place to start.

She also approached the Luce County Parks and Recreation board, which will ultimately be responsible for maintaining the path after it is finished. Parks and Recreation director Ben Rahilly, along with Transit, met with McMillan Township Supervisor Art Schultz prior to the township’s May meeting, where the path was discussed.

“The township board thought it was a great idea,” stated Art Schultz. “It would be great for locals and visitors alike. I have seen some of the bike paths, like the one on the way to Petoskey, and they are really nice.”

With Transit in attendance, the board voted to sponsor the project and authorized payment of $1,000 for the engineering study.

One of her next steps is getting letters of support from entities like the county, townships as well as local businesses.

Although the project is in the beginning stages, Transit has received much positive feedback from people who believe the trail will be a benefit to the area.

“We live in a beautiful place, and it would be a great resource for the county,” Transit said. “Ideally, this would be the beginning of something that could eventually go out to the falls—it’s very exciting.”

Watch the Newberry News for further updates on the project.