Close this search box.


Important Information

Cannon Township cuts through hilly terrain to make a trail connection to its downtown.

Cannon Township hired Prein&Newhof to design a 0.4-mile-long, 10-ft.-wide wide trail curving between Townsend Park and downtown Cannonsburg, allowing Users to walk three miles from Cannon Township’s Hall to the Honey Creek Inn in downtown Cannonsburg!

The paved trail includes a 40-ft.-long prefabricated bridge over Bear Creek with 100 ft. of wooden boardwalk over its floodplain and a wetlands. Prein&Newhof designed the trail including the boardwalk, bridge abutments, and retaining walls.

Bear Creek is a cold-water trout stream. Prein&Newhof’s ELGE-permitted design and close observation during construction helped minimize negative impacts to the stream and riparian wetlands.

The design of the bridge and boardwalk met MDOT H-10 loading rules (10-ton vehicles). Though they can handle a 20,000 lb. vehicle, the bridge and boardwalks have pedestrian-scale, park-like character.

Prein&Newhof designed the trail to maintain and enhance the unique character of Townsend Park. During construction, Cannon Township closed the old gravel parking lot for Townsend Park near Cannonsburg. The project restored the area of the parking lot with topsoil, steps and several trees, creating a more natural scene along the trail.

Prein&Newhof assisted Cannon Township to obtain several easements for the trail and coordinated work with the Kent County Parks Department during design and construction. Prein&Newhof engaged the owner of many of the commercial properties in Cannonsburg and coordinated the trail and restoration work with him. He invested in the simultaneous beautification of his properties, resulting in seamless improvements to the downtown.


In order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, the maximum grade on the trail is 5%. To meet this grade, structural sections of the trail required cutting into the wooded hillsides. These cuts could have destroyed the character of the park, but Prein&Newhof’s design, combining cut arms with retaining walls, grassy slopes, and new tree plantings created not only a functional and useful trail, but a beautiful experience for trail users.

The retaining walls minimized the environmental impact of the trail in hilly areas, but the steep slopes above them could have caused runoff and erosion. Prein&Newhof used a special seed/restoration mix on the steepest slopes that provided thick grass cover quickly, minimizing potential erosion in these difficult-to-restore areas. The sprayed mix held up to hard rain without washing away.


The first phase of this project was completed in the summer of 2016, and phase two is currently underway to replace the rest of the overlook.

P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, established in 1963, sits amid spectacular coastal sand dunes on Lake Michigan’s shore south of Muskegon, and offers campsites, beach access, a wonderful visitor center, and hiking trails. Part of a 4.1 mile pedestrian loop trail is the Dune Climb Stairway, a 193–step wooden structure leading to the top of one of the tallest parabolic dunes in the park, overlooking Lake Michigan. Before this project, the decades-old stairway had come to a point where it needed replacement. Leaning posts, sagging stairs, and rotting timbers caused safety and accessibility concerns.

Prein&Newhof worked with Hoffmaster State Park staff to design a longer-lasting replacement for the dune climb stairway and observation deck. The initial plan was to replace both the stairway and observation deck on top of the dune, but budget availability resulted in only replacing the stairway, which was the most crucial part to replace, for the time being.

Prein&Newhof reviewed several construction materials to decide which was the most cost effective and offer the longest life. The design team chose a galvanized steel substructure with treated timber framing.

Because of the site’s remoteness and severity, Prein&Newhof’s design team researched construction material delivery methods to minimize damage to the critical dunes. Heavy woods and severe slopes limited access to the site, so a small-wheeled vehicle was the only suitable equipment for installation and material delivery. The design team met with several contractors before taking bids to estimate construction costs and devise workable installation methods.

Prein&Newhof teamed with a local landscape architect and arborist to meet critical dune permitting rules and integrate user-friendly features into the design. The team met with the State Park’s education staff, who asked to include landings and overlooks to allow visitors to maximize their educational experience.

The Fred Meijer Standale Trail runs 6.5 miles between the city of Walker and Grand Rapids, but had one problem spot. Commuters, GVSU students, recreationalists, and residents using the trail had to cross Lake Michigan Drive at the nearest signaled intersection a half mile away. Many took the risk of waiting for a large-enough traffic gap to cross five lanes of traffic.

Walker hired Prein&Newhof to do topographic survey, soil borings, utility relocation coordination, easement acquisition, design, construction administration for a 14-feet by 10-feet tunnel, pedestrian plaza, stacked stone retaining wall, security cameras, lighting and landscaping; construction staking, material testing, public relations, utility coordination and construction observation.

Engaging MDOT, Consumers Energy, AT&T, DTE, the City of Grand Rapids and METC early in the preliminary design process made this project easier. Each had critical facilities or utilities affected by this project and it was important to seek accommodations from each of them to make this project work. Prein&Newhof worked with a local contractor to locate existing utilities in the project area during preliminary design. The information provided by this effort had significant implications to the later design of the tunnel.

Finding adequate funding for the project was also a challenge. The amount needed increased over the final 12–18 months for two reasons: the construction market tightened since the original estimate, and the proposed location of the tunnel changed because of existing utility locations and construct-ability concerns. The new tunnel location made it much easier to build, but required more concrete construction on the approaches.

The tunnel’s design and vision came from the City of Greenville’s tunnel under M–57 and Meijer’s tunnel under Three Mile Road, both of which Prein&Newhof also designed. Having these successful examples in hand helped Walker gain the support and funding to get the Standale tunnel built.

The design team proposed a phasing plan that saved the project and City over $100,000. P&N’s phasing plan included a weekend shutdown of Lake Michigan Drive, which eliminated any need for temporary paving or temporary retaining walls to maintain traffic during construction. The project team worked with all stakeholders including MDOT, City of Grand Rapids, Standale DDA, and Grand Valley State University to get approval of this plan.

The design team also proposed a 2,000-ft-long horizontal directional drill storm sewer installation to provide a gravity drainage outlet for the tunnel. P&N engineers determined this construction method to be the only workable choice due to the proximity of existing electrical transmission lines.

As Michigan’s regional trails expand, crossing major highways is a growing concern. Such was the case in Ionia, where busy M–66 is the main north-south route through town and downtown. The original plan for Phase II of the Grand River Valley Rail Trail was to design a traditional trail crossing, but  Prein&Newhof conducted a pedestrian traffic study that showed almost no available traffic gaps at the proposed M–66 crossing location during normal trail use hours. This convinced the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) that a non-motorized bridge, while expensive, was the right approach to crossing M-66.


The new ‘Bulldog Blue’ bridge (Ionia High School’s colors) is an iconic arch/truss bridge that welcomes people to Ionia. Because MDOT designated M–66 through Ionia as a super-load route, the new trail bridge has a 20–foot clearance over M–66 and spans 80 feet across M–66. The trail bridge’s deck is cast-in-place concrete. Both the bridge truss and the cable arch can support the bridge independently. The bridge approaches meet ADA standards, with a trail slope of five percent. They stay within the rail right-of-way and City-owned property, and a decorative retaining wall supports them. The railroad theme on the trail carries through to the M–66 crossing. An emblem on the bridge has a similar design as markers on the trail, and the light fixtures are like those of old railroad stations.

The trail follows the old Grand Trunk Rail Road rail bed within a 100-foot right-of-way, allowing gentle curves along landforms created to give an urban park experience. Ionia officials felt the new bridge should create a ‘gateway’ to the City. Complete with color-changing lights and a “Welcome to Ionia” sign, the bridge helps brand the City and create a memorable landmark to aid in economic development.

Construction and Maintenance

Grand Haven-based Anlaan Construction built the $2.35 million project, including the bridge and two miles of paved trail through downtown Ionia, in one construction season. Anlaan’s crew closed M-66 overnight while they bolted the bridge’s two halves together and lifted it into place. The Meijer Foundation’s Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Rail Trail maintenance endowment dedicates its earnings to trail maintenance and periodic inspections. This endowment covers trail maintenance and repair costs.


This project is part of the 125-mile-long Fred Meijer River Valley Rail Trail network, the fifth longest in the nation. The trail contributes to the economy of every community along its route. Popular trails create “Trail Towns,” where commerce and activity surround the trail. Nationwide studies show that trails improve the quality of life for residents and attract tourists. Studies show an investment in pedestrian infrastructure is an investment in safety, equal opportunity, economic development, and general health. Trails encourage people to use more healthy and sustainable modes of travel.

The Hiawatha Drain is a 2-square-mile area within both Grand Haven Charter Township and Port Sheldon Township that needed significant flooding relief. When the Drain began experiencing flooding after heavy rains a few years ago, the Ottawa County Water Resources Commissioner and its partners wanted to provide protection from the 100-year storm event, and to consolidate the storm water runoff in a manner that allowed for efficient maintenance of detention ponds and the drain.

Prein&Newhof did a drain study and storm water analysis and proposed a solution: open drain through three private easements with detention to a positive outlet to Little Pigeon River. This would provide the greatest benefit for less cost. The solution also included 2.6 miles of infiltration and drainage swale, 0.4 miles of enclosed storm water piping, and three detention and infiltration basins.

The project was also designed as an enhanced habitat corridor swale. A vernal pond (temporary pool of water), coastal plain marsh area, and the swale itself provides breeding, nesting, and foraging sites for a variety of reptiles and amphibians, including several rare and declining species. A balanced design used the fluctuating water table and sandy soils for increased infiltration and groundwater recharge. These elements are important to the types of plants and animal species that thrive in these habitats.

The design included several alternative routes crossing through overgrown and wooded areas not easily accessed. Using simple and useful GIS tools and Google Maps, the project team could evaluate each route and easily find their location in the field on their smartphones. This ultimately saved money in design, during clearing, and with project staking. The final route was chosen to avoid existing pocket marshes and rare ecosystem areas found in the Natural Features Inventory. One half-mile of the drain was ultimately located in a Consumer’s Energy easement that was easily accessible and only needed minimal tree trimming and grading to construct.

The Plaza is one part of a series of improvements recommended by Cadillac’s PlacePlan. In 2014, the City of Cadillac applied for MIplace Partnership help from the Michigan Municipal League (MML). They wanted to make the downtown’s Heritage Plaza a more inviting and exciting place for visitors and residents, while reflecting Cadillac’s true character. The PlacePlan took community input, design ideas, and a study of the area’s assets to make a customized plan for downtown Cadillac.

A new splash pad, outdoor fireplace, and an attractive metal arch add an inviting touch to the new Plaza gathering space in the heart of downtown Cadillac. The entire lakefront, including the Rotary Performing Arts Pavilion, City Park, The Plaza, Trailhead, and the future Market make up Cadillac Commons.

The City of Cadillac hired Prein&Newhof to design The Plaza at Cadillac Commons, including specifications, construction testing and observation. As overhead utilities like electricity are vital to downtown spaces, but often unsightly, Prein&Newhof worked with Cadillac to coordinate utility burial in an adjacent alley. Prein&Newhof’s landscape architect and structural engineer designed the planting plan, dumpster enclosures, and an archway for the plaza. The design configured the splash pad with the outdoor fireplace and coordinated other details for the pedestrian plaza and parking lot like lighting, signage, pavement markings, ADA ramps, and stormwater management.

Prein&Newhof had seen the benefit to communities of having asset management plans—long-term strategies for prioritizing and funding system improvements – for wastewater, storm water, drinking water, and road systems. A community’s park system is no different. Keeping track of all the physical assets that make up a community’s park system helps park managers achieve the lowest long-term cost of maintaining those assets.

Prein&Newhof is working with Park Township, a community of 17,579 people north of Holland, to develop their first-ever Parks Asset Management Plan (AMP). The idea for the project came from Matt’s experience at Ottawa County Parks developing their park database for future expenditure planning.

Prein&Newhof used GPS units and a digital camera to inventory and map fixed assets, including:

  • Parking Lots
  • Sidewalks
  • Buildings
  • Shelters
  • Boat launches
  • Trails
  • Boardwalks
  • Stairs
  • Signs
  • Tables
  • Benches
  • Playgrounds
  • Ball fields
  • Basketball courts
  • Maintenance equipment

Prein&Newhof then uploaded the location, age and condition of park assets into a database linked to Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a valuable tool that allows data layering and big-picture visualizations that would Park Township answer questions such as:

  • What recreational opportunities are available?
  • How many miles of hiking trails are available? What kind of trails are they? Are they accessible?
  • Where are protected natural areas and how big are they?
  • How much asphalt or boardwalk are we maintaining?
  • What are our capital improvement needs and do we have enough money to pay for them?

The information from the asset management plan will inform the Township’s Five–Year Recreation Master Plans and Capital Improvement Plans by giving a current snapshot of all assets’ conditions and projecting costs of future improvements and maintenance.

Passenger traffic at Cherry Capital Airport has been increasing and airlines have been changing the types of aircraft used to meet market conditions. Prein&Newhof worked with TVC to demonstrate to FAA that Cherry Capital Airport had sufficient capacity demands to justify extending the runway. With an extension, aircraft would benefit from minimal load reductions during the summer and more braking distance during the winter. After the project was completed, airline pilots have been able to slow down and turn onto a taxiway closer to the terminal, reducing ground taxi times and runway occupation time.

P&N helped Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City design a 400-foot extension for Runway 28 simultaneous to relocating the airport’s only instrument landing system. Both improvements are intended to aid airport safety. Multiple-phase construction kept the airport in operation throughout the project.

Four hundred feet of runway was constructed in just 11 days while the runway was reduced to 5,900 feet, relocating the glide slope antenna and installing a new medium intensity approach lighting system with runway alignment indicator lights (MALSR). A temporary and a permanent precision approach path indicator (PAPI) was installed. The Automated Surface Observation Station (ASOS) weather equipment was relocated and airport staff was challenge with coordinating the development of changes to the instrument approach, and facilitating the distribution of approach procedures.

Existing Runway 9/27 and Taxiway B pavements needed rehabilitation to extend their useful life. This effort triggered several requirements to bring these pavements to current standards with respect to grading and geometry. One major grading standards item was a new steel sheet pile headwall that provided the necessary embankment area to meet taxiway safety area standards. One major geometry standards item included the relocation of Connector Taxiway B1, which required wetland mitigation. In addition, the client no longer wanted to have the airfield lighting controls in the basement of their terminal, so the project constructed a brand new airfield lighting vault. Work was conducted concurrently to maximize project efficiency.

Given the impact to the primary runway and taxiway for air carrier service, Prein&Newhof worked to rehabilitate the crosswind runway in previous years and develop the necessary flight procedures to accommodate air service while the project was being conducted.

The project was managed to minimize the impact to operations and passenger service. The relocated taxiway connector was planned and designed to accommodate the most common landing distance used by the airline, helping reduce taxiing time. Although flights were delayed on some days due to weather conditions and the crosswind runway configuration, no flight cancellations occurred because of the project.

Prein&Newhof was responsible for geometric, lighting, structural, and pavement design, as well as construction administration.

As part of the Lakeshore Drive reconstruction project in the city of Muskegon, a significant effort was put into designing the roadway to provide a welcoming feel to the Lakeside neighborhood.

Prein&Newhof landscape architects and engineers led several planning meetings that included city leaders, residents, businesses, and the local neighborhood association. The planning meetings helped shape the direction of the project amenities.

The $6 million project included a new road surface, replacement of two large water mains under the road, new street lighting, crosswalks, benches, bicycle racks, and landscaping. The Lakeshore Drive project is part of the transformational mixed-use waterfront developments anticipated to the west of the Lakeside area.