Ribbon cutting celebrates new trail segment
September 12, 2020
By RICHARD JENKINS
Ramsay - Thursday's ribbon-cutting ceremony in Ramsay not only celebrated the opening of the newest local segment of the Iron Belle Trail, it also marked the latest milestone in the 10-plus year effort to develop the local non-motorized trail system.
"I just want to thank everybody personally for this project, it is ... a group effort and it would not happened without everybody being here and working on it. ... What a privilege to work with you all, you've been wonderful people to deal with," Bessemer Township Supervisor Jeff Randall told the group of local officials and other stakeholders who gathered for the ceremony at the end of the paved trail near Ramsay Road. "Just for myself personally and the people of Bessemer Township, I just want to thank everybody ... for such an incredible asset for this area."
Randall added that he's ridden a lot of bike trails and this newest segment is not only incredibly beautiful but a lot of fun to ride.
The new section, which opened for public use last week, extends the local section of the trail from the Moore Street trailhead in Bessemer to Ramsay Road. The trail will ultimately be part of the state-wide Iron Belle Trail running between Ironwood and Belle Isle in Detroit.
Scott Erickson, chairman of the Michigan Western Gateway Trail Authority, said locals have been working on developing the trail for over 15 years.
"It seems like it just happens but there's a lot of work behind the scenes to get to this point and get these trails built," Erickson said. "It's been just a joint effort, a team effort between many, many people, to get these trails done."
He said the work has not only tied the local communities together physically with the trail itself, but in the partnerships that are developed while working on the project.
Paul Anderson, a project manager with Coleman Engineering who oversaw the project, recounted some of that history as part of the ceremony.
Anderson said Phase 1 of the local trail, consisting of 2.5 miles in the city of Ironwood, was built in 2014 for $400,000. The $1.6 million second phase was completed in 2016 and brought the trail to 4.2 miles further east to Moore Street in Bessemer, according to Anderson, with the 3-mile extension to Ramsay costing just under $1.5 million.
"We've been reaping the benefits ... over the past six years since Phase 1 of the trail got built; it just keeps getting better and better," Anderson said. "It gives families a safe place to bring their children, to get off of the roadways and have their children on these beautiful trails."
Following the ribbon cutting, Anderson told the Daily Globe an effort is underway to find a route to Wakefield for both motorized and non-motorized trail users. He said the variety of private property owners and "lack of really good options" make it a very difficult task.
"We are working on it, we're going to continue to work on it. It's impossible to put a timeline on it at this time," Anderson said.
The price tag for Phase 3 was funded through a combination of Department of Natural Resources grants, money from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration alternative transportation programs, matching funds from the Gogebic Range Health Foundation and funds from the Michigan Western Gateway Trail Authority.
Andrea Newby, with the Gogebic Range Health Foundation, said the foundation's $200,000 match was its biggest allocation that she was aware of.
"I think we all know trails not only lead to improved economic resources in our community, but (they) also have major health impacts on our area as well," Newby said.
Anderson also thanked all the people and organizations who made the project possible.
The partnerships and cooperation that brought the trail to fruition was a theme brought up by virtually all the speakers.
"I think this is just another great accomplishment, and it shows how well the communities can work together," said Terry Kryshak, the mayor pro-tem of Bessemer's city council. "We're to Ramsay now, Bessemer in the middle, and we're on our way to Wakefield."