Work To Begin On Final Boardman Lake Trail Stretch; More Trail Projects Underway

Traverse City agents on Monday approved a just over $ 4.4 million contract with Elmer’s Crane and Dozer to complete the final section of the Boardman Lake Trail, a section that extends from NMC University Center to Medalie Park extends and includes a boardwalk over Boardman Lake Cove and two bridges that complete the five-mile loop. Boardman Lake is one of several TART Trails projects in the area. Work is also planned for the trail along Parsons Road, Tenth Street Trailhead and Leelanau Trail.

Elmer’s was the low bidder of two companies that submitted proposals to complete the Boardman Lake Trail for $ 4.4 million – a figure 10 percent over budget. The city had an opportunity to save nearly $ 300,000 off contract price by using a cheaper type of wood – a pressure-treated yellow pine flooring – instead of the originally planned Ipe (Brazilian walnut) wood on the boardwalk and bridges. However, staff found that using yellow pine comes with a compromise: while it is cheaper to install in advance, it requires significantly more maintenance and has a shorter lifespan than Ipe. According to Julie Clark, Executive Director of TART Trails, yellow pine trees tend to become slippery in shaded areas and bow in areas exposed to sunlight.

“It warps and pops and splinters everywhere,” she tells The Ticker. “It requires significantly more regular maintenance.” Clark told town commissioners that the isolated location of the boardwalk and bridges in the middle of Boardman Lake would make regular maintenance difficult. “These are very difficult to access areas,” she said, adding that the remote location was the reason the last segment of the loop is the most expensive to complete. “It’s the hardest part to do.”

City Commissioner Tim Werner agreed that having to regularly repair wood in the middle of Boardman Lake was not a realistic option. “We’re working on this wood in the lake, and I just don’t see it in the future,” he said. Werner also said that the Boardman Lake Trail attracts all types of users – from parents with strollers to wheelchair users or strollers to urban cyclists – and that using the safest, highest quality wood on the remote segment of the trail was key. City Commissioner Christie Minervini agreed that the Ipe wood was worth the higher investment.

City administrator Marty Colburn said he spoke to county officials and funding to cover the approximately $ 442,000 shortfall to end the loop is included in the Boardman Lake Avenue brownfield plan. That plan – originally intended to fund a new road between Fourteenth Street and Eighth Street – was later rerouted to cover other projects, including the Boardman Lake Trail, after the city abandoned plans for the new street. Grand Traverse County’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) is expected to meet next week to vote on increasing brownfield funding to cover the deficit on the Trail Project. City commissioners voted 5-1 on Monday to approve the Elmer contract, pending a BRA vote to approve additional funds. Mayor Jim Carruthers was absent on Monday while Commissioner Brian McGillivary was the only no. McGillivary, who said he would have voted “yes” if his vote changed the outcome of the decision, said he supported completion of the Boardman Lake Trail but had concerns about balloon costs.

Elmer’s is expected to begin work on the final segment of the trail this summer. The project is expected to be completed by the end of autumn or next spring. In addition to the boardwalk and bridges, the project includes a new path node near Sixteenth Street and Lake Ridge Drive that includes a lookout point, stairs, sidewalk and fishing pier. Elmer’s is also preparing to complete work that began last summer on the roughly $ 2 million section of the Boardman Lake Trail that extends from Fourteenth Street to NMC University Center (pictured). The company will begin cementing this segment shortly. The trail is expected to be open to the public this summer. In the meantime, for cost and logistical reasons, a “spur” has been removed from the project that was once supposed to lead from the university center to the south airport and the Cass Road intersection. Clark says she hopes it could be revisited in the future.

Elmer’s is also the contractor for a TART Trails project that began Monday on Parsons Road between Airport Access and Three Mile Road. The base fails in the 30 year old trail segment, which is roughly a mile long and is at the end of its life. The path will be widened by two feet and completely reconstructed. A landscape installation and a multifunctional sculpture by the Frankfurt artist Steve Kline are also planned. Trail users will be redirected to Indian Trail Boulevard during construction, which is expected to be completed by April 23. “We’re excited to have it completed before the high season,” says Clark.

Improvements are also planned for the Tenth Street trailhead near Oryana and for the Leelanau Trail between Traverse City and Suttons Bay. Inhabitect design firm began earthmoving and landscaping work on Tenth Street trailhead on Monday as part of a redesign that will include new landscaping, amenities enhancements, and a public art sculpture by area artist Brian Ferriby. The starting point is closed this week during work. Boardman Lake Trail can be accessed from Twelfth Street. Finally, TART Trails says that TART Trails will launch a new trailhead on the Leelanau Trail on Shady Lane this summer. “It will have additional access and a small parking lot, much like Cherry Bend Road,” she says.

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