Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Adrian trail leads to regional vision

That's because the only trail he could find near his hometown was Adrian's Kiwanis Trail, which ended short of the Tecumseh city limits.

Frustrated, Mr. Gross decided to lobby area residents and local municipalities to support extending the Adrian trail to Tecumseh and beyond.

“If it came to pass, you could bike from Adrian to Ann Arbor,” said Mr. Gross, 47. “It's possible that this project would never end. You could always link up more trails.”

Following the trend made popular years ago by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy project, Mr. Gross helped initiate the River Raisin Greenways Project. Spanning from south of Tecumseh north into Washtenaw County, the project would involve building asphalt trails throughout the countryside.

And eventually, each community hopes to build a labyrinth of smaller paths within its jurisdiction.

In Lenawee County, only about nine miles of trails exist. The Kiwanis Trail in Adrian was built about 10 years ago. The asphalt trail begins in the city, continues northeast toward Tecumseh, and then abruptly stops.

Mr. Gross hopes to see the trail continue to Manchester and Bridgewater in Washtenaw County. “It won't happen overnight, but, like anything else, you put a plan in place and 10 years later you have accomplished a lot,” he said.

Although the Kiwanis Trail follows the path formerly laid down by a railroad company, the extension will likely not follow an abandoned rail line, said Robert Ford, president of Landscape Architects & Planners. The Lansing-based company was hired by the River Raisin Greenways Project committee to develop a master plan for the trail project.

Paid for by a $26,000 local grant, the master plan was the culmination of seven public meetings and a multitude of public input.

The Greenways project involves the development of about 27 miles of trails, Mr. Ford said. In addition to the proposed main route, the master plan includes an alternative route, and several paths that would connect points of interest within a city. Most likely, the project would be paid for through grants, city funds, and lots of fund-raising.

Mr. Ford said final costs would depend on what route is chosen and whether other paving projects would be involved in the work.

“When you are able to use an abandoned railway, you don't have to do much,” he added. “It's in these convoluted areas that are more difficult to plan.”

The trails traverse urban, suburban, and rural America and are used for biking, walking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and wheelchair recreation. Though Michigan has a local Rails-to-Trails office, the Lenawee County communities are working independently to build their trail system.

Mark Gasche, director of the Adrian Parks and Recreation Department, said the Kiwanis Trail has been heavily used. He added that he shares Mr. Gross' vision that this trail could eventually be extended to the south through Blissfield into the Toledo area.

“We're excited,” he said. “In Adrian, it's proven to be a real valuable resource that is always being used.”

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