MICHIGAN CITY – Construction of a multi-use trail more than 2 miles long on the north side of the city is underway after nearly 15 years of planning and delays.

Work on the long-awaited Singing Sands Trail, which will begin at the eastern end of the Calumet Pedestrian Trail at U.S. 12 and County Line Road, started this month, according to Michigan City Park Department assistant superintendent Shannon Eason.

The trail will eventually become part of the regional Marquette Trail, which begins on the south side of Chicago, goes through Northwest Indiana, and will end in southwest Michigan.

The preliminary work includes installation of silt fencing along the route, and right-of way-clearing. That work is beginning on the north side of U.S. 12 near Pullman Park, then will go west to the trailhead on U.S. 12/County Line Road across from the Calumet Trail, Eason said.

The trail will "offer enhanced connectivity for both pedestrians and bicyclists to the north end of Michigan City, featuring Lake Michigan, Washington Park and the Washington Park Zoo; numerous restaurants, Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets, proximity to Blue Chip Casino, and many other areas of local interest," she said.

The trailhead, located just west of the Porter/La Porte County line, will mark the western start of the project, according to Eason. The path will cross U.S. 12 at the trailhead, then head east on the south side of U.S. 12, before re-crossing the highway about 300 feet west of the South Shore Line tracks.

From there, the trail will follow U.S. 12 into Michigan City, with this first phase ending at City Hall.

The bid construction cost came in under budget at less than $2.5 million, she said.

The project was bid through an INDOT letting in May 2019, with construction starting this month. The work will likely shut down for the winter months of December through March 2020, and resume in early April 2020, with "substantial completion" of the first phase of the project anticipated in the fall of 2020, according to Eason.

Phase II should be under construction in early 2020 and Phase III is scheduled for 2021. Those final two phases will extend the trail down 8th Street, Michigan Boulevard and over Peanut Bridge before ending at the Michigan state line.

"The Singing Sands Trail will offer many benefits to our community and provide a means through which others can visit and explore our great community," Mayor Ron Meer said when the NDOT funding was approved.

 "Promoting civic pride, recreational opportunities, a healthy lifestyle and the conservation of greenspace for our biking, hiking and nature-loving enthusiasts will only add to Michigan City's appeal as a place that people want to visit, work and live," he said.

Planning work on the trail started in 2003, but right of way acquisition took several years to complete, Eason said.

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