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Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail: Phase II

April 21, 2014

Project: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Heritage Trail Phase II
Challenge: Started work four weeks late due to a long and extreme winter (three feet of snow on the ground on the proposed start date); working in a very limited disturbance area
Solution: Having the best crews around and being willing and able to work more hours, bring in more employees, and use more equipment.

Owner: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park, MDOT
Contract Amount: $1,771,317.50
Design Engineer: Judy K. Browning, R.E.
Location: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, along M-109 from Pierce Stocking Drive to the Dune Climb, and along M-22 from Pierce Stocking Drive to the north village limits of Empire, Leelanau County
Date Started: April 21, 2014
Date Completed: June 6, 2014 (open to traffic)
Self-Performed: 86%
Partners: National Park Service,  MDOT, LSHR Commitee, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, TART Trails, Bella Concrete, Action Traffic, Diane Dukes, Give-Em-A-brake, Inland Seas Engineering, Timberline South, Michigan Pipe and Valve, CSI Geoturf.

Two years ago, Team Elmer’s broke ground on one of the highest profile projects in our history, a 27-mile, non-motorized trail designed to wind along the widely renowned Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The project, which was funded in part by both the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Authority, was always going to be a massive undertaking. A marathon-length, paved trail that would allow bikers, joggers, hikers, and other non-motorized adventurers a spot to explore this beautiful environment in leisure, away from both sand and road.

However, the sprawling nature of the project required that it be broken up into multiple segments and spread out over the course of a decade. This past April, Team Elmer’s began work on segment two, extending the current trail from four miles in length to 9.5 miles, including Greenan Road,  and pushing the project past 35 percent completion.

Pre-planning strategies was key to reaching the one-third benchmark. The biggest concern was to preserve as much of the natural beauty as possible, dodging any unnecessary environmental disruption. On-site visits with park representatives and the project foreman allowed strategic planning for staging and timber consultations for clearing efficiencies while protecting the natural flora and fauna of the area. Pre-construction challenges included steep slope sections to clear and build (with finish slope at 12% grades),  significant grade changes in sections, and limited disturbance areas throughout the project. Team Elmer’s completed the clearing of 5.5 miles of trail space. Chipped clearing material was reused. Grading, graveling, laying down hot mix asphalt, adding curbs, concrete ramps, landscaping flourishes and even installing signs to help direct traffic occured in a continuous construction sequence along sections of the trail. To make matters more challenging, we were working in a limited disturbance area and time frame, as well as working around motorized traffic.

Start to finish, the project schedule was eleven weeks. Thanks to one of the coldest winters in recent Northern Michigan memory there was still three feet of snow on the ground on the specified start date. Four weeks later, the snow had finally melted enough for us to get to work.

Rising to the challenge, Team Elmer’s put their problem solving abilities to the test. Team Elmer’s leaped into action, working overtime, increasing the size of our crews, and sending more of our equipment up to Empire than we had initially intended. The extra hard work paid off: on June 6, right on schedule, we were able to open the second segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail to the public.

The hope, of course, is that future generations will enjoy the pristine beauty of the trail and winters won’t bring as much snow and cold. Between now and 2016, there are two additional segments scheduled for bid, adding eight more miles onto the trail. The 2015 segment will connect Glen Arbor to Port Oneida, while 2016 work will span from Port Oneida to Bohemian Road.
Ultimately, the trail is set to run from the northern end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore down to Manning Road, which is located south of Empire. The 27 miles of trail in between those two points will give cyclists and other travelers ample access to popular lakeside attractions – such as Glen Arbor, Glen Haven, and the Dune Climb itself – as well as to amenities such as campgrounds. And all within the safe confines of the trail away from motorized vehicles.
Interested in following construction on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail? Visit the trail’s official website at  http://sleepingbeartrail.org.

By the Numbers

Cleared 5.5 Miles of trail in 10 working days
25 Employees, 9 Trucks and 19 Pieces of equipment all moving at once
16,100 Ton of Cl II sand
16,300 Ton of Gravel

Click here to download a PDF of "Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail: Phase II"


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