Throughout the pandemic, more people are utilizing the outdoors for a sense of balance and peace. On "Issues of the Environment" this week, WEMU’s David Fair caught up with Park Planner and Landscape Architect Peter Sanderson for a look at how the Border-to-Border Trail in Washtenaw County is expanding, improving and, creating even more accessibility to hiking and biking.
- Non-motorized trails and park paths are busier than ever in southeast Michigan. The boom in use began during the COVID-19 pandemic stay-at-home order, and as social spaces like restaurants, bars, sports venues, schools, and churches closed up, more and more people headed outdoors in search of safe, socially-distanced leisure activities. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a national organization advocating for trail networks built off of former rail lines, said trail usage surged by 200% across the nation from March 16-22, in comparison to that week in 2019.
- Five pedestrian-friendly projects are still on track to be completed in Washtenaw County this year, despite the coronavirus pandemic, officials said:
- Construction has continued for the 70-mile a cross-county, non-motorized Border-to-Border trail, with a tunnel under M-52 and parking spaces -- next to Green Lake in Lyndon Township -- expected to be completed soon.
- The Chelsea-Stockbridge connection, which begins at North Territorial and M-52 and continues south to Werkner Road and M-52, north of Chelsea will soon include 50 parking spaces, shelter and bathrooms at the trailhead near the intersection of North Territorial and M-52.
- A half-mile trail along the west side Grove Street from Water Street to I-94 in Ypsilanti is expected to begin this month and continue through August.
- Construction for a segment connecting North Hydro Park to the Border-to-Border trail on Grove Road in Ypsilanti Township is expected to begin mid-to-late July and open in September.
- Next year, crews expect to begin work on a trail connecting Zeeb Road to Delhi Metropark.
- Peter Sanderson is the Principal Park Planner & Landscape Architect for the Washtenaw County Parks & Recreation Commission. Susan Faulkner, Huron Waterloo Pathways Initiative executive director, said, “There are very few places that people can go and feel safe. The interesting thing that we are seeing also that’s really been reinforced is the position of trails as an essential community asset. We all know they help our physical well-being. The impact on mental health has been clearly documented. It’s one of the last few places where people can go out and feel safe.”
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