Hiking Trails

Dickinson County Bridge Project Ceremony Highlights Successful Season of MNR Trail Work in Central UP


A groundbreaking ceremony marking the completion of a $ 600,000 multi-use recreational trail bridge replacement project was held today in Foster City, Dickinson County.

The ceremony concluded a successful season of trail improvement efforts on behalf of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in the central part of the Upper Peninsula.

“This bridge is an important addition to our regional trail system that will benefit trail users and local residents,” said Rob Katona, UP Center Trail Specialist in the Parks and Recreation Division of MNR. “We are delighted to see this project completed just in time for the opening (December 1) of the snowmobile season.”

The project along the Felch Grade Rail-Trail involved the complete replacement of an old railway bridge with a 130-foot-long prefabricated steel bridge with a wooden deck. The bridge is 14 feet wide.

The span over the east arm of the Sturgeon River off Cheese Factory Road had been closed for over 14 years until the trestle could be replaced.

“The new bridge will eliminate a safety concern for snowmobilers,” said Henry Wender, chairman of the Dickinson County Council of Commissioners.

Felch Grade is a main east-west trail in south-central UP that connects communities along the M-69 corridor, leading to other towns and villages, including Republic and Gwinn to the north, Iron Mountain and Norway to the south. and Escanaba to the east.

Prior to replacing the center piles and bridge abutments, an MNR fisheries biologist and employees of Whitewater and Associates of Amasa surveyed and relocated the freshwater mussels approximately 1,000 feet upstream of the project site.

On deck, 172 freshwater mussels, consisting of eight species – four listed as Special Concern in Michigan – were relocated. Surveys have confirmed that the river supports a vibrant population of native mussels.

“This project involved a lot of preliminary work to secure a long-term rental agreement with Dickinson County, which made funding for this project possible,” Katona said. “We thank Dickinson County for its partnership with MNR in building this project which will improve outdoor recreation in this region. “

The contractor for the project was Hebert Construction Co. of Iron River. The work was financed by MRN funds for the improvement of off-road vehicles and snowmobile trails.

Meanwhile, MNR has completed numerous other OHV trail and non-motorized trail improvement projects in central UP in recent months, which have totaled over half a million dollars.

ORV trail projects

Of these efforts, 20 projects were completed to revitalize trail surfaces, repair aging infrastructure and improve environmental conditions on 200 miles of ORV trails and roads through parts of Delta, Dickinson, Marquette and Menominee counties.

Surface projects included dust control, infill, gravel and leveling. Culverts have been replaced at several locations on OHV trails and roads. Six bridges have been repaired. New boardwalks have been built on a single track motorcycle trail.

The total cost of the upgrades was $ 423,000, funded by the state’s Off-Road Vehicle Trail Improvement Fund, which includes revenue from the sales of ORV and trail permits.

“The use of ORVs in the region is at an all time high,” Katona said. “We are committed to returning the revenue generated from the sale of ORV stickers in the field to the benefit of the ORV community and to ensuring that we have a well-maintained and safe trail system. “

Project work was carried out by various local contractors including Gagne Custom Logging & Excavating of Spalding, Pine Creek Excavating of Norway, Geomaterials, ATP, Jacobson Landscaping, Bilski Enterprises, Big Creek Builders, Tembreull’s Excavation Inc. of Michigamme, Sam Dirt Champion’s Works and Conery Contracting.

“We are especially grateful to the ORV clubs that are meeting the maintenance needs,” Katona said. “Without their commitment and partnership, we wouldn’t have the high-quality, well-managed trail system we have today.

Non-motorized trail projects

Construction of elevated trail sections, installation of culverts, construction of a boardwalk, hardening of trail surfaces, re-routing of trails and improvement of parking areas took place on the trails of the ‘State in three counties. Grants from the Non-Motorized Trail Fund paid the total cost of $ 87,000.

“The trail works were needed to improve the wetlands and replace old boardwalks that were in poor condition,” Katona said. “The work has improved the overall quality of these trails. Trail users should be happy with these improvements. We plan to continue to further improve these areas over the next two years.

The trails included in the projects were the Days River Trail in Delta County, the Cedar River Trail in Menominee County, and the Little Presque Isle and Anderson Lake trails in Marquette County.

Contractors included Gagné’s custom logging and excavation, geomaterials and atlas contracts.

All of the state’s trails are open to all non-motorized use, but Cedar River is primarily for horse riders, while the rest have a mix of hiking and biking as primary uses.

For more information on Michigan State Trails and Trails, visit Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.