EGLE grant helps fund ‘Miracle Mile’ repairs
Back in April of 2020, nearly 100 yards of a popular bike path between Petoskey and Charlevoix washed into Little Traverse Bay due to erosion caused by high water levels.
Three years later, the section of the Little Traverse Wheelway known as the ‘Miracle Mile’ for its stunning views of Lake Michigan, remains closed.
The city of Petoskey secured $800 thousand from the Department of Great Lakes and Energy’s High Water Infrastructure Grant which will make a significant dent in fundraising for the planning and engineering phase.
The Little Traverse Wheelway helps connect the communities along U.S. Highway 31 and provides a picturesque view of Lake Michigan.
According to a 2021 study from the nonprofit Top of Michigan Trails, the Wheelway brings in around 160,000 people per year, and up to $10 million in annual economic activity.
“Even in peak summer, half the people that are out on this trail are locals,” said Brent Bolin, executive director of Top of Michigan Trails. "They tell us, ‘I ride to work on this trail, I take my grandkids out on this trail, I buy ice cream on this trail…’. So it's a real community amenity.”
Due to the 2020 washout, a mile long section of a 120-foot-high coastal bluff along the Little Traverse Bay will need to be stabilized. Multiple slope failures have washed out the trailway and compromised U.S. 31.
Director of Parks and Recreation for Petoskey Kendall Klingelsmith said planning will include safeguards against future erosion.
“This is about an 18-month data collection timeline,” Klingelsmith said. “We want to capture every season with the monitoring wells. We want to capture water tables. We want to capture currents. We want to capture everything that we possibly can.”
According to an EGLE press release, alternative designs may include cobble beach as natural shoreline protection to minimize lakebed impacts while enhancing and preserving sensitive aquatic habitats.
In total, the planning and engineering phase will cost about a million dollars, according to Klingelsmith.
The city intends to employ Wisconsin-based firm Baird Engineering – who investigated the collapse in 2020 and specializes in Great Lakes coastline infrastructure.
Top of Michigan Trails also secured a $50,000 grant from the Michigan Trails Fund and continues to fundraise for the project. Donations can be made on the organization’s website.
“The sooner we can raise the full amount of this money... The sooner we can get this contract signed with the engineering company… the sooner they can get to work… and the sooner the trail can go in,” Bolin said