From: Scott C. Anderson
Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11:30 PM
To: Paul Vandenbosch
Cc: Todd Scott
Subject: South Haven to Saugatuck route
Ginny Sullivan forwarded your message to Todd (who officially works for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance) and myself (who unofficially volunteers). I'm a planning commissioner for China Township in St. Clair County, and I do about fifteen other things, and if I could figure out how to get paid for eight or ten of them I'd be rich.
We have been working on one of the five U.S. Bicycle Route corridors assigned to Michigan, designated U.S. Bike Route 20, which will run from Marine City (where there is a bicycle-accommodating border crossing into Ontario) to Ludington then via ferry to Manitowoc and on westward. Since we have learned that Wisconsin will first be working on USBR 30, which will connect to Michigan via the Milwaukee-Muskegon ferry, we have added a segment of USBR 35 from Muskegon to Ludington to our honey-do list, and that's where your project comes in, to my thinking.
None of these national bike routes will be "trail-only" projects; that's inconceivable. For USBR 20 and the part of USBR 35 we've looked at, our basic premise is we use good regional trails wherever we find them on the corridor, and where we don't have that, we use paved rural roads when possible and state roads with paved shoulders where necessary, favoring scenic routes where they exist, and going into communities where we can (so a bicyclist can get lunch or a Coke, use the bathroom, etc.).
U.S. Bike Route 35 on a national level is a very long corridor, stretching from the deep south up through Michigan. The Michigan portion, as you doubtless are aware, runs up the Lake Michigan shoreline. The current work we have done only covers the segment from Muskegon to Ludington and is in a very early draft stage. (I can show you that if you'd like to see it.) Not very many people have seen it yet or are even aware that we're working on it. (Josh DeBruyn, from the MDOT Nonmotorized Office, is one of the people aware of this.)
I think - and Todd, feel free to chime in - that the USBR 35 segment we're working on would be much better if it can be extended further north or south. Certainly if you have an excellent facility, existing or to be built, from South Haven to Saugatuck, it would make sense to consider incorporating that into the route. Of course, we'd have to connect it to the Muskegon-Ludington portion, somehow.
The process for designating a route and having it approved to be part of the U. S. Bicycle Route System is a fairly long one, complex and largely untried. This is all brand-new stuff we're doing. In Michigan, one thing that's likely is that we will need to have lots of local buy-in and transmit that up to Josh at MDOT, who then will apply to AASHTO for route designation on the various routes. Once that's done, assuming AASHTO approves a route, then it can be signed and mapped as a U. S. Bicycle Route.
From your own point of view, if you are in the grant-application process, I think the potential to establish your project as a segment of a route of national significance might help in the scoring system the various grant agencies use.
Keep in touch!
Vice Chair, Planning Commission
Charter Township of China
St. Clair County, MI