Construction begins on Michigan section of 60-mile trail from New Buffalo to Chicago

What’s happening: A groundbreaking was held in New Buffalo this past Wednesday, April 3, as community leaders celebrated construction beginning on their stretch of the Marquette Greenway. The nearly 60-mile non-motorized trail will eventually connect southwest Michigan to Calumet Park in Chicago.

What it is: The Marquette Greenway is a 58-mile non-motorized trail that will run from Chicago’s Calumet Park to the west, along the northwestern Indiana shores of Lake Michigan, and into southwest Michigan, with its future trailhead to be located at the corner of Smith and Mechanic streets in downtown New Buffalo. There are numerous points of interest along the way, including Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park, and several opportunities to connect to additional non-motorized trails. The latter includes the western trailhead, which connects to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail, and maps reveal plans that call for a future trail that connects New Buffalo to the Michigan communities of St. Joseph and South Haven.

Where it’s at: There are more than 25 miles of trail completed in Indiana and Illinois. The New Buffalo groundbreaking marks Phase 1 of construction in Michigan, which will run from the trailhead to the Grand Beach Road railroad crossing and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Phase 2, which picks up from the end of Phase 1 and runs to the Indiana border, is expected to be completed by the end of 2025. The entire Marquette Greenway is expected to be completed by 2027.

How they’re doing it: A variety of funding sources have been secured to build the trail, which runs through three states, five counties, and 15 municipalities. Those sources include funding from a number of state and federal departments, support from municipalities and the general public, and, in Michigan’s case, foundations like The Pokagon Fund. The total cost of the 58-mile project is expected to top $100 million.

What they’re saying: “In addition to essential infrastructure, USDA is also helping to create opportunities for rural recreation,” says USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan Brandon Fewins, who was on hand for the April 3 groundbreaking. USDA Rural Development awarded Berrien County a $99,000 Rural Business Development Grant for surveying and engineering costs. “The scope of this project, its many partners and the coordination between them are an example of the great things we can accomplish together.”

Visit Friends of Berrien County Trails online for up-to-date information on the Marquette Greenway.

Got a development news story to share? Email MJ Galbraith here or send him a tweet @mikegalbraith.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.