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News and quick-hit commentary from around mid-Michigan ... from the Morning Sun.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Through the rail trail tunnel

When the expressway carrying what was then U.S. 27 was built back more than 40 years ago, trains still ran regularly along the C&O tracks from Midland to Ludington, with the train cars connecting to points west on cross-lake ferries like the City of Midland, Spartan and Badger. The highway bridge over the railroad and Saginaw Road in Clare was built extra high to accommodate the rail cars.
Now, the rails are gone, the right-of-way converted to the Pere Marquette Rail-Trail. A recent Michigan Department of Transportation project to repair the bridges lowered the height of the highway bridges and added a tunnel to carry the rail trail under the U.S. 127 freeway.

The stonework and design evokes the look of railroad tunnels of the 19th century.

Beyond the tunnel headed east toward Loomis, Coleman, Sanford and Midland, a pleasant vista opens up.

The rail trail is perfect for cyclists, walkers, people who use wheelchairs and others. Mostly lined by trees, the linear park provides a quiet, pretty path through the countryside. It's paved from its beginning at the Tridge in downtown Midland all the way to Clare, and the state-owned portion of the linear park extends all the way to Baldwin through Evart and Reed City.

Trailheads are in Midland, Sanford, west of Sanford, Coleman, Loomis and in Clare. It doesn't take any gas to ride.


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