Safer route coming for cyclists, walkers

Bike pathway extension will help students who live south of campus

| Author: Jeff Johnston

A pathway extension for cyclists and pedestrians will make the trek to campus safer for hundreds of Central Michigan University students who live south of Deerfield Road.

In partnership with Union Township, the city of Mount Pleasant and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, the $250,000 project will connect two existing sections of nonmotorized pathway with a 1,000-foot extension along West Campus Drive from Denison Drive to just north of Theunissen Stadium.

Safety is the goal, said Jonathan Webb, CMU associate vice president for facilities management.

Once the eight-foot-wide lighted pathway opens, more than 1,600 CMU students living in private apartment complexes on the south side of Deerfield Road will be able to reach campus by foot or bike without having to use the shoulder of Crawford Road or West Campus Drive.

Construction will begin this fall.

A community effort

Webb praised the community partners supporting the project.

Union Township applied for funding from the tribe and received $150,000. Native American tribes in Michigan set aside 2% of gaming revenue annually for local governments and revenue-sharing boards.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with our local partners on a project that highlights pedestrian safety in our communities,” said Erik Rodriguez, the tribe’s interim public relations director. “Working together to pursue strong collaborative projects truly benefits all residents here in our area, and we are committed to continuing to support these types of initiatives.”

The township — where the apartment complexes south of Deerfield are located — and the city of Mount Pleasant also are contributing funds to the project.

“The city is pleased to be one of the many partners involved in the development and funding for this important improvement,” said Mount Pleasant City Manager Nancy Ridley. “This is another example of the positive relationship and cooperation among CMU, Union Township, the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and the city of Mount Pleasant.”

CMU is contributing engineering, administration and construction management. The balance of project funding is expected from partner organizations and businesses.

Part of something bigger

The new pathway ties into Mid-Michigan Community Pathways’ plan for a 60-mile dedicated cycling trail from Ithaca to Clare, passing through Alma, St. Louis, Shepherd, Mount Pleasant and Rosebush.

Union Township Manager Mark Stuhldreher said nonmotorized pathway networks not only make students and residents safer and healthier, they connect users with regional arts, culture, entertainment and businesses.

To Steve Davidson, president of the nonprofit MMCP, it’s a win-win for CMU and the larger community.

He notes that the entire 60-mile project is expected to take 20 years or more to complete.

“Everybody kind of came together to make this extension happen,” Davidson said. “Everyone’s excited. They all want to know when the next section is going to be done.”

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