Friends Of The Blue Star Trail Project & Saugatuck Officials Working Out New Route Changes
Blue Star Trail will not traverse through the City of Saugatuck’s palette sign, the iconic feature welcoming visitors at the Lake Street and Blue Star Highway intersection entrance to the city, according to recent discussions between city officials and Friends of the Blue Star Trail.
The 20-mile, non-motorized trail runs along Blue Star Highway from South Haven to Saugatuck Township, including through the cities of Douglas and Saugatuck and also Saugatuck Township.
Officials said they are concerned the trail project will obstruct or hamper the sign, cause a negative impact to vehicular traffic, and who will be responsible for securing funding for future maintenance of it.
However, some worries of Saugatuck officials have been addressed.
“I have met with John Adams (Treasurer of Friends of the Blue Star Trail),” Saugatuck Mayor Pro-Tem Ken Trester recently told The Local Observer.
Trester is part of a trail subcommittee, acting liaison and city representative relative to the trail proposal.
“They are open and willing to address our concerns. We are going to invite them to come to present their ideas to us,” added Trester.
One possible alternative route, which both Friends and city officials are eyeing, is to loop around the palette sign and its landscape. That would mean that the trail, after going across the Blue Star Bridge, will run not through the sign, but east on Lake Street, then right and up State Street, then south on S. Maple Street and then rejoin with the Blue Star Highway.
Saugatuck officials also want to move the trail from the current route on North Street to Clearbrook Drive. Both route options run from Blue Star Highway west to Holland Street to connect with the existing trailway in Saugatuck Township.
As for funding concerns raised by Saugatuck officials, Jeanne Van Zoeren, chair of the Friends of the Blue Star Trail, noted, “We conduct annual fundraisers, seek various foundation grants and government funding.”
Some of the trail has been completed in Douglas and Saugatuck Township.
Douglas has been granted a CMAQ Grant (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) to finish its 14-foot-wide, non-motorized route from Center to Lake Streets, as part and parcel of a Blue Star Corridor improvement project.
However, the fact that the project entails a reconfiguration of Blue Star Highway from a three-lane to a two-lane road has Saugatuck officials worried, questioning whether the road modification may cause problems with motorists going in an out from an already complicated intersection at Blue Star Highway and Lake Street, just north of the bridge.
“In total we have three miles completed,” said Van Zoeren of the ongoing project.
“This includes 1.7 miles in Saugatuck Township, .3 miles in Casco Township, and about 1 mile in Douglas. We plan to construct about 1.1 miles of trailway this coming spring (the phase 2 of the north sector in Saugatuck Township at Blue Star Highway off North Avenue) assuming we have reasonable construction bids. Bidding is in process,” she added.