September 1, 2014

Work on county-long bike path gets under way

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ARENAC COUNTY — A 53-mile paving project along M-13/US-23, reaching from Bay County, near Kawkawlin, to the Iosco/Arenac county line and creating a non-motorized shoulder the entire 53 miles, got underway on July 7.

“It’s going to be a wider shoulder. … It’s going to have rumble strips,” said Michigan Department of Transportation manager for the Bay Region Transportation Service Center, Kurt Coduti. “We’re basically just upgrading and widening those shoulders, so there’ll be an eight-foot paved shoulder.

“This is one of the larger ones (paved shoulders), as far as I know.”

According to an e-mail from the Michigan Department of Transportation, (MDOT) the $4 million project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus package).

“These funds (in the ARRA) are allocated for this work specifically,” Coduti said, adding part of the ARRA is to be explicitly used for transportation enhancement projects such bike paths. “It can’t be used for road improvements.”

He says the path will basically skip through cities, as most have designated paths or sidewalks already existing for non-motorized travel. But AuGres City Manager Pat Killingbeck says to her knowledge, where the county-long path ends and where AuGres’s picks up, there will be a connection.

She also says she believes it can be beneficial to Northern Michigan.

“I think it’s one more thing that we have to offer. … We’ve been promoting non-motorized vehicle transportation for many years,” Killingbeck said. “It’ll just expand the opportunities for those who want to go further for exercise or recreation or whatever.”

Coduti says in the Thumb area of Michigan, many shoulders have been paved and widened similarly to the US-23 project, and have gone over quite well.

“We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on them,” he said, adding, however, that some patrons of the paths have complained about issues with motorized vehicle drivers on the roadways next to the paved shoulders.

An e-mail from MDOT says traffic along the work route will be flagged and that at least one lane in each direction will remain open during construction, but delays can be expected nonetheless.

The project is anticipated to wrap up in late September.

Rieth-Riley Construction Company, Inc., of Prudenville, is the contractor for the shoulder work.

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