July 02, 2014 - A 10-year plan to extend Independence Township's safety path system totals $950,000.
The Capital Improvement Plan for the path system also includes $80,000 in equipment expenses. In 2015, $600,000 is scheduled to be spent in partnership with Oakland County to connect township paths to other paths in the Oakland County Parks system.
In 2014, $100,000 will be spent to connect a trail along Maybee Road between Independence and Orion townships.
A $350,000 path on Sashabaw Road north of 1-75 is scheduled for 2020.
According to township supervisor Pat Kittle, the average home in Independence Township pays an annual tax bill of $3,341 – $32 of that tax bill funds safety paths through a voter approved Safety Path Millage.
Last year, Kittle said money collected under the safety path mileage, at the time $125,000-$140,000, was just enough for routine maintenance to existing paths in the community.
The fire millage was lowered to .35 or a tenth of a point, and the safety path millage was increased by a tenth, which added an additional $130,000 a year to safety path funding.
Kittle said additional funding would allow the township to create paths rather than just keep up with maintenance costs.
Safety paths are expensive to both engineer and install especially on streets never designed to include a path.
Just a one mile stretch of proposed pathway on Clintonville Road near Waldon and Maybee roads carries a $1 million price tag because a bridge is needed to bypass swamps, drains and rivers in the area.
In 2013, the township approved $300,000 for a path down Clarkston Road from Sashabaw Road to the southern entrance of Independence Oaks Park. The new path included additional expenses because a boardwalk was included to cross over waterways. A large portion of the path was paid for by a government grant.
A new proposal aims to save money by using an existing power line corridor. Kittle said it would cost $150,000 to $200,000 per mile to install the eight-foot-wide paths along the corridor, cheaper than installing paths in areas with natural features making paths harder to engineer and more expensive.
A safety path plan was first studied by the township in 1978 and later led to the formation of a safety path committee.
In 1992, the township adopted the Safety Path Plan into its Master Plan.
The Safety Path Program is a non-motorized trail system meant to encourage recreation and healthy activities. Hikers, bikers and walkers can travel the paths for fun or to connect to major recreational facilities or interesting areas or features of the community.
There are currently 48 miles of safety paths in the township.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.