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Boddy Construction wins contract to build bike trail along Black River Canal

Photo courtesy of Jim Bloch. The Black River Canal, looking west from Gratiot Avenue.

By Jim Bloch

The city of Port Huron has hired Boddy Construction for nearly $1.4 million to build a bike/hike path along the south side of the Black River Canal from Gratiot Avenue west to Holland Woods Middle School, where it will turn north, cross the canal on a new bridge and run along the east boundary of Port Huron Northern High School to Krafft Road.

The city council voted unanimously to approve the contract with Boddy at its regular meeting June 27.

Boddy was the lowest of five bidders at $1,389,414. Teltow Contracting of Casco Township submitted the second lowest bid at $1,405,117 followed by Z Contractor of Shelby Township at $1,444,150; IJ Contractor of Clifford, at $1,544,165; Grand River Construction of Hudsonville was high at $1,664,283.

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The nonmotorized pathway will cross the Black River near the canal entrance as part of the regional Bridge-to-Bay Trail system, which will stretch from Lakeport State Park to New Baltimore, when it is completed. About 50 percent of the trail has been built.

“This extensive project is supported with grant funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the Community Foundation of St. Clair County, a portion of the annual millage allocation from the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Commission, and local private donations,” said City Manager James Freed in a memo to the city council and Mayor Pauline Repp, who had contracted COVID-19 and missed the meeting.

The community foundation will kick in $626,000; the city $315,000; the Wilson Foundation, $242,000; the DNR Trust Fund, $240,000;

The city will raise nearly $48,000 in additional funds for the project, Freed said.

“Why this is important, is that it not only creates new recreational pathways for our communities, it also creates resiliency within those campuses,” said Freed, as heard on a recording of the meeting posted on the city’s YouTube channel. “For instance, in the middle of winter, we had a gas leak at Holland Woods Middle School. Those kids had nowhere to go. They had to be emergency-bused to Port Huron Northern gym will we took care of the gas leak. If we had that pedestrian bridge, we could have evacuated those kids (directly to PHN). This will also promote the opportunity for high school students to do volunteer hours at Holland Woods.”

The bridge will be high enough to accommodate boat traffic along canal. The bridge will be eight feet wide.

“I think this is a good thing to do,” said council member Anita Ashford.

Freed anticipated that construction of the path on the south side of the canal will begin this fall. The pilings and abutments for the bridge will also be built in the fall. Delivery of the bridge is not expected until December. The project should wrap up by June 2023.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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