It won’t be long before bikers and pedestrians will be able to use the full length of a regional, nonmotorized Chicago-Michigan trail connecting three states: Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois.
Marcy Hamilton, senior planner and deputy executive director of the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission, says mapping out a route and securing funding including private donations for the four-mile Marquette Greenway Chicago-Michigan trail between the Indiana border and the lakeside community of New Buffalo, Michigan has been in the works for several years. “We have recently reached our fundraising goal,” she says. “However, until the project goes out for bid, we won’t be sure if it will be enough or not.”
Residents throughout the region have long hoped for a Chicago-Michigan trail that would connect the three states while providing access to destinations along the way, according to Friends of Berrien County Trails. Dozens of volunteers have been working to help it become a reality.
So far, 22 miles of the Marquette Greenway Chicago-Michigan Trail have been built and 32 miles are fully funded. In total, it will span about 58 miles between the south shore of Lake Michigan from Calumet Park in Chicago to New Buffalo. Key funding sources have included the Michigan Department of Transportation, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, The Pokagon Fund, New Buffalo Township, New Buffalo City, and USDA Rural Development.
“The trail will be a wonderful amenity for the residents and visitors to southwest Michigan,” Hamilton says. “Currently there are no nonmotorized trail systems in southwest Berrien County. The closest in Michigan are in Niles, St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, and South Haven.
“The trail will provide a safe alternative transportation option and also provide a free and easily accessible recreation opportunity where folks can get healthy exercise and connect outdoors to others in the community.” Bids for the Chicago-Michigan trail section should go out in May, Hamilton adds. Construction is expected to start this summer or fall. Hamilton says the goal is for the connection from East Chicago to New Buffalo to be completed by 2026.