The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

MI-TRALE works with DNR to repair Ontonagon County trails


January 12, 2018

Submitted photo

WORKERS POSITION one of the final sections of concrete culvert during a project to replace a collapsed culvert over Davy Creek on the trail between Rockland and Ontonagon. The photo was provided by Don Helsel, president of the Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment. MI-TRALE partnered with the DNR to complete the project.

ROCKLAND - Motorized and non-motorized trail users will continue to be able to use an old rail grade in Ontonagon County after a failing culvert was replaced.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Environment partnered to complete the project, which involved replacing a culvert over Davy Creek, off Cemetery Road, on the trail between Rockland and Ontonagon.

"The 12-mile Ontonagon to Rockland multi-use designated route is open to all recreational users, both motorized and non-motorized," MI-TRALE President Don Helsel said in a DNR press release on the project. "It provides access to Lake Superior, via a signed route through the village of Ontonagon, and to multiple services within the village."

Ironwood-based Jake's Excavating and Landscaping replaced the culvert, although the project became more difficult than the average culvert replacement, according to the press release.

Workers had to remove trees, clay, fill dirt and debris to get to the culvert - which was 40 feet below the trail's grade.

"When the workers dug down to remove old fill dirt, they discovered an old railroad trestle that had been buried at the crossing," DNR deputy public information officer John Pepin said in the release. "The pilings and timbers from the bridge had to be dug out and removed to get to the old culvert."

The work was further complicated by the weather, according to the release, and the fact the culvert was cracked and filled with debris.

The old culvert was replaced with 12 concrete sections of 6-foot-diameter pipe - each of which weighs 15,000 pounds, according to the release.

The DNR's off-road vehicle permit fees funded the $107,190 project, which is one of the largest grants given to a MI-TRALE-managed project.

"This was an exciting project to manage; it is one of our largest grant amounts to date," Linda Schulz, MI-TRALE secretary and one of the project managers, said. "Handling this grant project is a lot of responsibility, and MI-TRALE was very proud the DNR granted it to us."

The route between Ontonagon and Rockland would have been closed without the work, according to Schulz.

"MI-TRALE believes repairing the infrastructure of trails and routes is such an important part of keeping the trails open and safe for all our riding guests, summer and winter," she said in the release. "We have many culverts and bridges 75 years old and older that are at the failing stage and in need of repair."

-Richard Jenkins


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