WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) $17.8 million in RAISE grant funds to complete the Marquette Greenway from Chicago to New Buffalo.
According to Marcy Hamilton, senior planner for the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, this represents the culmination of nearly five years of effort to secure this source of funding.
She said NIRPC released the Marquette Greenway Poster Plan in 2009, and since then, over 30 miles of trail has either been built or fully funded, leaving nearly 26 miles remaining to complete the trail, which includes 3.5 miles from the Indiana border to downtown New Buffalo.
The amount awarded falls short of the $23 million request, but Hamilton said “will be more than helpful to secure the remaining funds from traditional state and federal sources, which combined sets us on course to complete the entire route within five years.”
She said the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission and the Friends of Berrien County Trails worked with NIRPC to ensure that the Michigan portion of the trail was included in the overall grant proposal.
“It is still being determined what amount of this new funding will be dedicated to the Michigan portion of the trail. The Michigan portion of the trail has $3.6 million in funds secured from the Michigan Department of Transportation (Transportation Alternative Program), Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Trust Fund and Recreation Passport Programs), The Pokagon Fund, New Buffalo Township, New Buffalo City and USDA Rural Development.”
Hamilton said some local fundraising may still be needed, which would be spearheaded by the Friends of Berrien County Trails.
“It is expected that the Michigan portion of the Marquette Greenway will start construction in 2022.”
According to Hamilton, the U.S. Department of Transportation has yet to release an official statement or list of projects. As soon as this happens, NIRPC will begin working with the nine participating municipalities (including New Buffalo Township and the City of New Buffalo) and the Indiana Dunes National Park to commence the work.