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New paths for Orion and beyond

October 16, 2013 - Township Supervisor Chris Barnett likes to joke with Independence Township Supervisor Patrick Kittle that once Orion trails connect with Independence, "their property values will go up at least ten percent."

Two safety path projects were awarded bids at the October 7 board meeting, one at the Baldwin and Indianwood intersection (which would connect trails to Independence) and another project termed Phase 2 will connect surrounding neighborhoods of Paint Creek elementary to the school.

Both projects will cost $537,238.75.

Phase 2 Indianwood project is starting now. The other project will start late April or beginning of May, 2014, as soon as the frost lifts.

"The safety path advisory committee has worked really hard for over a year on both of these projects so it's really exciting to finally see them get off the ground," Barnett said. "Jeff Stout, our operations director, has literally knocked on every person's door on Indianwood Rd. to acquire easements that we needed, and in general everyone is really excited about moving forward."

"What we're also really excited about is the contractor who won the bid is FDM Contracting, the same contractor who is finishing the water main extension, and we have heard nothing but awesome feedback from our residents about this contractor," he added.

Orion Township has a dedicated safety path millage, with over 45 miles of safety paths.

"We want to fill the gap and make it safer for people to ride on a pathway that's safer than on the road," Heather Muzzy said, Safety Advisory Committee Path member. "We're trying to make loops and connections for people to get around between subdivisions and hopefully to frequent businesses in the area, or to get to parks, or visit friends, or young people may be able to use a bike to get from home to a job and back, so that would be a good vision to the future, and provide recreation," she said.

Their biggest challenge in Orion is with wetlands, water and soft ground; so most of the safety paths have been built in the easiest spaces, along subdivisions or along parks.

"The places you don't see paths is where we have water on both sides of the road, and that's extremely expensive to do per linear foot," she said.

The township can begin to apply for grants to help fund more pathways as soon as they have an active master plan, which is in the process right now.

The final input meeting for the community is coming up November 16.

"That's the final opportunity for people to say, where do we really want paths the most, or what is the interest and willingness to have bike lanes in the community, in addition to the regular parks and recreation opportunities," Muzzy said.

The input session will be November 16 at the Orion Center from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

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