Bi-path will undergo changes
ALPENA – The bi-path in Alpena is one of the most popular places for people to walk, jog and bike. Spanning more than 18 miles it provides people who use it access to local businesses, as well as views of the Thunder Bay River and other points of interest.
A project is under way that could lead to some helpful additions to the trail, as the Alpena Rotary Club has proposed to Alpena Municipal Council a plan that would see the installation of mileage signs, as well as directions to popular attractions in the Alpena area.
City Engineer Rich Sullenger said the Rotary Club approached him expressing interest in erecting the signs at no cost to the city. The mileage signs would let the user know the distance they have traveled every half mile. Sullenger said the bi-path is heavily used by citizens and people visiting Alpena and the information the new signs would provide would be useful.
“The mileage and destination markers would be added to the various loops of the bi-path that way people would know how far they have traveled and how far they have to get back to where they began, or how far to the next trail-head,” Sullenger said. “We designed a simplistic post-top sign holder that we can put interchangeable signs and maps in. The Rotary has agreed to cover the costs to have them fabricated and put the posts in.”
Several years back a local Eagle Scout installed some mileage markers as a project. Sullenger said Rotary is mindful of the hard work the Scout put into his community service and will work to keep his work in place.
“Rotary indicated Monday night they would like to incorporate them into the new system plan,” Sullenger said. “They don’t want to take away anything from what he had done, just supplement it.”
Besides adding signs and maps the Rotary is also considering a name change for the trail. At Monday’s council meeting the council members suggested the Rotary Club involve others in finding the perfect name, if a change does happen. Mayor Matt Waligora said he supports a name change because there is a certain amount of confusion with the current name. He said some call it by its proper name, the Alpena bi-path, while others refer to it as the Alpena bike path.
“I’m all for what the Rotary is doing, but in terms of renaming it I think it is important to include the public and other organizations. They seemed open to that,” Waligora said. “I think the more people who are involved the better chance we have in naming it something that everyone will embrace.”
Sullenger said not only would the path get a new name, but the individual loops also could be named. He said the portions of the trail that run along the river could be something like the Thunder Bay River Loop or another which runs around the Thunder Bay Marine Sanctuary could be the Sanctuary Loop. He said there has been confusion with the name since the first section of the path was built in 1976 as a bicentennial project. He said he believes some people think the bi-path is only for biking because of its name.
“A lot of people don’t know and it is probably harder for people out of town to know what the path is and what they can use it for,” Sullenger said. “It is a multi-use path. It is one of the best assets as far as use goes that we have throughout the system. Hundreds of people use it on a nice day using it in various capacities. Maybe the use would increase more if more people were aware of what it can be used for and maybe not a little confused by the name.”
Sullenger said money is set aside each year for maintenance and repairs where needed on the trail. He said for the amount of use it has seen over the years it has held up well. He said he expects the city will continue to keep it in the best condition possible and to make additions when finances allow.