Making New Connections for Active Living

A new non-motorized trail was installed today in Houghton County, Michigan, enabling more people to safely commute by foot or bike to school, shopping, work and play.

The 800-foot paved trail was a collaboration of PortageTownship and Western U.P. Health Department, through a project funded and supported by the Healthy Communities Initiative of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH). The Health Department works with local units of government to develop policies and infrastructure to make walking and biking safer and more convenient.

Portage Township Supervisor Bruuce Peterson explains:

“Today the trail was paved by Bill Siler’s crew – the trail is 8 feet wide and 802 feet long and has about 80 tons of bituminous 2 inches thick on it. Ray Sharp at the Health Department was able to get the grant for $8,600, and the remaining costs for the shaping, gravel and bituminous surfacing Portage Township will pay out of its recreation budget. The trail is defined as non-motorized – it’s for foot and bike traffic. This will be a great community asset – it will allow people who reside near Shopko an easy access to the Kessner Park and the adjoining trail that leads along the waterfront in Houghton.”

“The connector trail is a new kind of public health project,” said Ray Sharp, the health department’s manager of community planning and preparedness. “It will help residents travel back and forth between the Houghton Waterfront Trail and the west M-26 area, encouraging healthy physical activity.”

The health department receives funding and support from MDCH and from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities program to promote access to physical activity and healthy eating in order to reduce childhood obesity and chronic disease, and improve quality of life.

Here’s a look at trail construction, with the Portage Waterway and Lift Bridge in the background.

Looking north toward Portage Lake, August 2011

Site preparation, Oct. 25, 2011

Laying the bituminous (paving), Oct. 26, 2011

Completed before the first snow -- Oct. 26, 2011.


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