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Construction on White Pine Trail closes 21-mile section until November

Last year's construction of the White Pine Trail from Sand Lake to Howard City.
Photo Courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Michigan DNR
Last year's construction of the White Pine Trail from Sand Lake to Howard City.

Construction has started on a 21-mile stretch of the Fred Meijer White Pine Trail, closing the trail from Howard City to Big Rapids.

The section is scheduled to be closed until November.

The work will include paving the 21-mile section along with replacing two culverts in the area during the construction.

After the construction is completed, the White Pine Trail will become the longest paved rail-trail in the state at 92 miles, according to Friends of White Pine Trail Vice Chair Paul Griffith.

Griffith said the trail will be a lot more accessible for people once the construction is done.

“It'll give everybody access,” Griffith said. “I've seen rollerbladers, so it will be runners, it will be walkers, it will be bikers, so a lot of folks will use it. And now when it is all paved, we will have a lot more people using it than before because obviously the unpaved portion gets used the least.”

With accessibility increasing, Griffith said the trail will attract people from around the Midwest and increase tourism.

“We will get people from all over the state, from all over the Midwest who are serious bikers,” Griffith said.

The construction has started in Howard City and is picking up where last year’s work happened on the trial.

Currently, the construction crew is working on removing some trees on the trail which Griffith said should be completed by next week. Following that the crew will start the process of grading the trail and forming a ditch on both sides.

After those steps are completed, Griffith said the paving process will begin.

The two culverts which are about five miles south of Big Rapids could take a few months to complete because one has to be completely replaced, Griffith said.

“They will have to take that culvert out and put a brand new one in, and that will take that will take a couple of months or more to do both of those,” Griffith said. “And they won't start that until the tree crew has come through.”

Because of the culverts, the work might not be completed by November, according to Griffith. If the construction is not completed by November, it will pick back up next spring.

Griffith said the White Pine Trail started the paving process in 1998 from Big Rapids to Reed City.

“This has been a long haul,” Griffith said. “The first section from Big Rapids to Reed City was paved in 1998, so this will be a big deal when we get it done.”