With grant funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), the Michigan Air Line Trailway Council acquired title to the former Coe Railroad corridor in February 2017. The Council is a cooperative effort of Commerce Township, the City of Wixom, and the City of Walled Lake in partnership with the State of Michigan and with Oakland County.
As part of the conversion of the former railroad into a non-motorized recreational trail, the MDOT secured over three million dollars in Federal funding to construct a non-motorized bridge over M-5. MDOT presented preliminary concepts of the M-5 bridge to the Commerce Township Board of Trustees in 2016. The Township Board felt the bridge could be an opportunity to serve as a gateway into the Township, and decided to contribute local funds to enhance MDOT’s standard design. The Township contracted with Touchstone Architecture, who developed a package of enhancements to MDOT’s base bridge intended to honor Commerce Township’s heritage as a community of beautiful lakes. Bridge enhancements include decorative sail walls atop the abutments at either end of the bridge span, a perforated metal wave across the bridge face, decorative signage, and color-change lighting.
The MDOT received six bids for the M-5 bridge construction project in November 2017, and the job was awarded to Davis Construction Company of Lansing. Davis began construction in January 2018. Through the winter and early spring, the bridge abutments on either side of M-5 took shape. In early May the center pier rose from the highway median, followed by installation of the bridge’s six beams over M-5. Through July, Davis poured the bridge deck across the main span and along both ramps, began installation of the railings, and began work on forming the sail walls. Bridge completion is anticipated around early September 2018. You can follow the progress of the non-motorized bridge over M-5 by following this link to the Michigan Air Line Trail’s website: miairlinetrail.com/br
The Michigan Air Line Trail is approximately six miles of former railroad right-of-way that traverses through Wixom, Walled Lake, and Commerce Township, connecting with the West Bloomfield Trail to the east, the Huron Valley Trail to the west, and the M-5 Metro Trail to the south. The trail will be part of the Great Lake to Lake Trail Route #1 that will connect Lake Michigan at South Haven to Lake Huron at Port Huron by 2019. The Michigan Air Line Trail has been open to the public since May 2017, although its surface remains mostly comprised of the former railroad bed. While the M-5 bridge is under construction in 2018, the Trailway Council is working on identifying sources of funding for improvements to the trail, and is hopeful that those improvements will begin in Spring 2019. Trail improvements will include an asphalt surface, signalized trail crossings at major roads, and trailhead parking areas. Fundraising is ongoing to restore the former Walled Lake Depot for use by the Michigan Air Line Trail.
Commerce Township, the Michigan Air Line Trailway Council, and the MDOT are excited about the non-motorized bridge over M-5 and its future as a proud gateway into Commerce Township. For more information, contact the Commerce Township Planning Department at (248) 960-7050.