ISHPEMING - The third phase of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail's construction will begin this week, connecting the paved trail in Negaunee to the paved bike path in Marquette.
A contract with Smith Paving Inc. of Marquette was signed on Sept. 12 with a bid of $1.16 million. Phase three has to be completed by July 1, said Carol Fulsher, administrator of the Iron Ore Heritage Recreation Authority.
"This is one of the biggest projects they've had to do thus far," Fulsher said. "We've done 2.5 miles before but this one is almost 12 miles of trail."
Clearing of the new part of the Iron Ore Heritage Trail from Negaunee to Marquette will begin this week followed by paving of the trail. The project, when completed by July 1, will create more than 30 miles of connected trail. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Once the trail is finished between Negaunee and Marquette, there will be more than 30 miles of connected trail, Fulsher said.
Because that segment of the trail is all new, the construction will begin with clearing out the path.
"There are stakes and ribbon already out there marking the trail," Fulsher said. "It just needs to be cleared out for paving."
The trail will continue through Negaunee to the Eagle Mills area into Marquette and continue on behind all of the U.S. 41 businesses. It will then come out behind the Holiday Inn and make its way over the Soo Line bridge over U.S. 41 and connect with the Marquette bike path on the other side.
The top of the Soo Line bridge was leased from the Michigan Department of Transportation, Fulsher said. The top will be paved to create a safe crossing over U.S. 41 and tall fences will be put along the sides for safety reasons, she said.
"It's coming together nicely," Fulsher said. "It's been a long time coming. We've been working on it for years."
Fulsher said she's relieved to get this section of the trail started.
"It's been a really tough section to get done between land ownership problem, to having to dig up rail and just the terrain in general," Fulsher said. "We know people have wanted this section completed, so we're excited."
Construction on phase three is expected to start sometime this week. The next phase of the project is to connect the trail in Ishpeming to Ely Township.
Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.