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Published: Wednesday, 9/30/2009

Meeting focuses on River Trail pavement

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The proposed use of concrete to pave part of the Sylvania River Trail was a focus of discussion during a lightly attended meeting about the project last night.

City officials and a project engineer pledged to take another look at that part of the proposed trail along the Ottawa River and Ten Mile Creek near downtown Sylvania after an audience member said the joints in concrete paving would be rough on bicyclists, especially after those joints have settled for a few years.

Representatives of JJR of Ann Arbor, the city's consultant for the project, said they recommended concrete for the trail's western end because elevated "boardwalk" sections will have concrete surfaces, and concrete also will be more compatible with the downtown business district nearby.

But Emily McKinnon, the consultant's civil engineer, said the rough-joints issue was something others had raised during previous meetings, and options for using longer concrete slabs to reduce the number of joints will be reviewed.

"It's certainly something we'll be looking at as we move into construction drawings," she said.

As proposed, the 1.3-mile trail would follow the river from U.S. 23 to Silica Drive near Southview High School, with a branch up to Monroe Street along Ten Mile Creek's north fork.

Part of an existing trail in Harroun Park would be upgraded to serve as the River Trail's middle section.

A proposed second phase would provide a new trail on the north bank opposite the park between the Ten Mile's forks and Main Street.

The first phase, estimated to cost $2.69 million if none of several optional features is approved by city officials, "is long enough to have an impact and add recreational value to the city," said Cheryl Zuellig, a landscape architect with JJR.

Mayor Craig Stough said he will recommend the city proceed with detailed construction design when it again considers the project on Monday.

Applications for various grants that could cut the city's cost by close to half can be made once that design work is done, Ms. Zuellig said.

The Sylvania River Trail, Mr. Stough said, will be "a real community asset" that will boost community businesses and reconnect citizens with the waterway, which over the years has become "unapproachable and unseen."

"It's a great asset to the city, and it's a perfect thing for the river," agreed Toni Andrews, a city resident at the meeting.

City Councilman Doug Haynam, meanwhile, said that although he fully supports the project, he's heard some "second-hand and third-hand rumblings" of opposition and was disappointed that no one who feels that way attended the meeting.

"Frankly, I think we have answers for the kinds of concerns people would have," he said.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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