TRAVERSE CITY — The missing piece of a fully looped Boardman Lake Trail could be more expensive than project partners originally estimated.
Traverse City Assistant Manager Penny Hill said the projected price tag for linking the trail from its current ends at Fourteenth Street and Medalie Park, plus building a spur to the corner of South Airport and Cass roads, is $7.5 million. That’s factoring in unit prices from a pair of previously submitted bids for the project’s first stretch, which were rejected because they were too costly.
The new estimate is $2 million more than previous ones, and the city and Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails are looking to fill a funding gap, Hill said. Part of that could come from brownfield money once planned for a proposed road in Traverse City.
Plans are to ask for $900,000 to be reallocated from the Boardman Lake Avenue brownfield plan, Hill said — 15 years of talk over the road fizzled in 2017 as support dwindled.
Brownfield Redevelopment Authority members will discuss the request at their Jan. 30 meeting, Hill said. If approved, $800,000 would go toward construction and $100,000 toward engineering.
That would leave $200,000 of a $1.1 million funding gap project partners are trying to fill. TART Trails Executive Director Julie Clark said the nonprofit will raise more money, and approach Garfield Township at a future board meeting for more as well.
“Between TART and Garfield Township, we hope to close that gap,” she said.
The township already committed $800,000 for a maintenance fund. And $3.6 million in brownfield money is already lined up as well, plus hundreds of thousands in grants and more than $400,000 from TART Trails, documents show.
The project should be ready for new bids before an April 3 letting, Hill said. Bidding earlier in the year and giving contractors more time to work should net more favorable pricing. So too should a change to the trail in a section that runs along some railroad tracks so excavators won’t have to dig as deep.
City Engineer Tim Lodge and his department is working with landscape architect Prein & Newhof on the plans, Hill said.
Lodge told commissioners they’re working on a version with a base project and several amenities listed as optional.
“All the bells and whistles are going to be in what we’re going to be working on,” he said. “We haven’t really eliminated anything, but we haven’t really gone through and vetted through to make sure we can afford everything.”
Construction materials also need to be weighed based on initial cost and long-term maintenance, Lodge later added.
Work on the trail extension’s first phase, which would connect Fourteenth Street to Northwest Michigan College’s University Center, could begin as soon as June, Hill said. Plans for the second phase are nearly done and the goal is to start building this phase in 2020 as well.
Clark thanked commissioners for keeping their focus on the project, which has been talked about as a possibility for decades. She said after the meeting the increased cost estimate was just part of a complicated, evolving project.
“We’re solutions-oriented, we’ll figure out how to get this done,” she said.