‘This will generate considerable revenue Michigan needs now’
State planners last September approved installation of an Amtrack monorail over the White Pine Trail, a project that is now open for public use.
“This will generate considerable revenue Michigan needs now,” said a state spokesman during the unveiling ceremony held Thursday, April 1.
Friends of the White Pine Trail opposed the project, saying that a train capable of traveling at 80 miles an hour over the serene landscape through which the trail passes will be distruptive.
“We enjoy the natural aspect of the trail and hikers and bicyclists won’t enjoy the loud noise and exhaust when the train goes over,” said Mick Mosh, director of the Athletic Supporters of the White Pine Trail.
Others consider the monorail a brilliant addition to the trail that will increase visits to Rockford and other communities from Comstock Park to Cadillac.
When people walk, they never look up. It was just wasted space that now has a practical use,” said Cliff Hill, who, with wife Nancy, is an avid walker.
The cost to ride the monorail depends on where along the trail people board. The Rockford stop, in downtown Rockford at the Prominette, is the most expensive. “You pay for value and there is no doubt rockford is the prettiest town along the 100-mile stretch,” said the Director of the White Pine Trail Monorail Authority.
The monorail was installed in 110-foot segments. It was designed to be high enough that tall people can use the trail without bumping into it. The base supports are electrified to discourage graffiti or vandalism.
Portions of the work were paid for with federal stimulus grants while part of the funding came from advertising on the train itself. New ads will appear monthly on the exterior of the train body.
“Really it is as pretty as the woods and rivers the trail passes by, maybe even more so,” said the Director. “I think it is a beautiful addition. The smell of fumes when the train passes will only make people appreciate clean air more. That’s win-win if I ever saw it.”
Each community voted separately to approve their portion of the monorail and the ticket sales income will be split accordingly. Sand Lake voted not to be included, so riders will disembark the train, walk through scenic Sand Lake and board again at the town’s northern boundary.
For more information, call Bleth at 866-4465. Do not call the City of Rockford.