TART Trail Expansion & Extension
The City of Traverse City is requesting proposals from consulting landscape architectural/civil engineering firms to provide final design and construction administration services for the Traverse Area Recreation Trail (TART) Expansion and Extension between West End Beach and the intersection of Garfield Avenue/US 37 and Eastern Avenue, located within the City of Traverse City. One firm will be selected as a qualified firm to provide the engineering services for the project.
The Michigan Department of Transportation is reconstructing Grandview Parkway from Garfield Avenue to Division Street in 2024 providing an ideal opportunity to address non-motorized transportation improvements along the corridor. The City, Downtown Development Authority (DDA), and TART Trails engaged the services of Progressive AE to identify opportunities and create a conceptual plan for the existing trail along the waterfront from the West End Beach parking lot, extending past the Murchie Bridge to continue along the corridor and down Peninsula Drive to the intersection with Garfield Avenue.
The section of non-motorized trail between West End Beach and the Murchie Bridge serves as confluence of the regional trail network for both transportation and recreation, providing a junction for the TART, Leelanau Trail, and the Boardman Lake Loop Trail. Furthermore, the heavily used waterfront parks in this location create an exceptionally high level of trail use. Trail counts conducted along this stretch by TART Trails in 2018 and 2019 showed over two million trail visits annually. The pandemic impacted trail counts in the subsequent years with the cancellation and/or modification of the National Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival events, and more people working remotely. As these events come back online, combined with a rise in interest for outdoor activities since the onset of the pandemic and improved access to the trail as part of the Grandview Parkway reconstruction, the increasing trend in trail use is expected to continue.
The capacity limitations of the current non-motorized facility results in periods of congestion and user conflicts. To address this, the concept plan proposes expanding the trail width to 16 feet, with 10 feet dedicated to bi-directional bicycle use, and six feet dedicated to pedestrian use. The added width will address the capacity limitations and marking the pavement to separate pedestrians and bicyclists will address user conflicts by creating space for the modes which operate at different speeds.
East of Senior Center Beach it is anticipated that the trail would narrow down to approximately 12 feet due to an expected decrease in trail use compared to the Open Space along with a constrained right-of-way in this area. The extension of the trail would require easements from the private property owners between Bayshore Resort and the intersection with Peninsula Drive and Grandview Parkway. The Consultant will be expected to work with DDA/City/TART staff and residents to determine the appropriate facility (ies) along Peninsula Drive and north to the intersection of M37/Garfield Avenue and Eastern Avenue. The scope of work for this project ends at the intersection of M-37 and Eastern Avenue. This extension, however, will eventually connect to NMC, Traverse City Central High School, Eastern Elementary, the Civic Center, and other points of interest in and around the base of the peninsula.
This project directly aligns with many of the City Commission’s strategic priorities, goals, and objectives including access and mobility, climate action, and connecting people with each other and nature. An argument can also be made that accessible non-motorized transportation options can help address housing and economic development. Moreover, this project represents an opportunity to further strengthen and improve overall mobility and access for our most vulnerable population along the Grandview Parkway / East Front Street corridor to enhance the work done with MDOT’s planned 2024 reconstruction.
The City and DDA have both budgeted $150,000 each for design engineering, along with an additional $200,000 committed from TART.
The trail has enjoyed a long history of financial support from state agencies and has the potential to garner significant federal, state, and private funding support.