A major piece of the puzzle is being put in place on a Marquette County trail system, thanks to two significant grants.
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail Authority will be using a federal Transportation Enhancement grant and a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to complete another section of the trail.
This new stretch will run about 12 miles from Negaunee to Marquette.
The new pathway will start at the Negaunee Senior Citizens Center and run east to Marquette County Road 492 near Ely Street, where it will follow old railroad grades. The trail will then continue east, ending with improvements to the former Soo Line Railroad bridge over the U.S. 41 bypass in Marquette.
The Marquette County Road Commission will be completing the $1.4-million project, which will be covered by $777,800 in federal TE funds, $460,000 from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and $202,200 in matching funds from the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority.
Historically significant aspects of the trail will be covered in the section being completed, including early mine sites, forges, quarries and the Michigan Iron Industry Museum, as well as active tracks that still carry iron ore from Marquette County mines to ore carriers on Lake Superior in Marquette.
Carol Fulsher, administrator of the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority, said this link is a vital part of the 48-mile pathway that will course its way from Republic Township in the west to Chocolay Township in the east when completed. She said the authority expects usage of the trail "to explode" when the section is finished.
The trail holds a lot of promise not only to provide recreation for local residents, but should also be a major tourist destination.
Getting the trail built section by section using authority funds as well as state and federal grants is also a glowing example of multi-jurisdictional cooperation working in a positive direction.
For more information on the trail, visit the website www.ironoreheritage.com.