36 / 24
      38 / 28
      41 / 29

      Indian River pathways bridging communities together

      For residents near the Indian River in Cheboygan County, it was a day to celebrate. Thursday marked the completion of the Safe Pathways Project.

      The project cost $964,455 and took eight years to complete.

      According to Tuscarora Township Trustee Craig Waldron, trying to work with multiple agencies and townships was part of the delay.

      "Trying to get everyone's regulations to work with everyone else's and then the time frames was just a lot of project," said Waldron. "It was a lot to get all the grants lined up and make sure the DDA (Downtown Development Authority) had funding. Then get a design that worked for the community, didn't encroach on the peoplesâ?? property too much or hurt their parking lots. So there were a lot of hurdles to go through."

      The projects received $784,455 in grant money.

      Some of the money came from the "Safe Routes to School" grant.

      In order for the Safe Pathways Project to be eligible for the "Safe Routes to School" grant the bridge and pathways need provide a safer way for students to walk to Inland Lakes Schools.

      Superintendent Fred Osborn of the Inland Lakes Schools said that without the walking-bridge over the Indian River, students and residents would be forced to walk on the narrow shoulder on a busy highway.

      "I mean it's M-68; it's a highway," said Osborn. "We have a lot of our kids that live in the downtown area and for them to come to school on that route was dangerous. So this gives them exactly what the title is 'Safe Routes to School.' We can offer not only safe passage, but a benefit to the community as well."

      The completed project connects the North Central State Trail, downtown Indian River, Burt Lake State Park and Inland Lakes Schools.

      Executive Director Dawn Bodnar of the Indian River Chamber of Commerce, said the bridge will not only help walkers stay safe, but it will also help reinvigorate the downtown Indian River.

      "This actually connects our downtown area with our state park," said Bodnar. "We actually have thousands of people at the state park every week so now they have an easy way into town."

      According to Bodnar, the completed project was just the start. Bodnar said the amount of projects planned for the future of Indian River could reach more than $8 million.