Grand River Valley Rail Trail

City of Ionia

An abandoned railroad in West Michigan is becoming the Fred Meijer Trail Network, a series of nonmotorized trails that connect dozens of communities.

The City of Ionia hired Prein&Newhof to design Phase I of the Grand River Valley Rail Trail from Saranac to Ionia—a major community project for both Ionia and Saranac, since it passes right through the edge of each downtown area. Constructed in 2013, the AASHTO-compliant non-motorized trail repurposes rail bed, including seven trestles over various water bodies. The sections of the trail in the Saranac and Ionia areas are asphalt, and rest of the trail through the countryside is a limestone aggregate material, specially formulated for non-motorized use.

The trestle design was the most challenging design element associated with this segment, and the improved trestles provide excellent opportunities for trail users to enjoy nature and the Grand River. A 466-foot-long trestle over the Grand River provides exceptional views of the river in the Ionia State Recreation Area and is one of the longest and most scenic of its type in Michigan. To take advantage of the natural beauty of the route and maximize the aesthetic appeal of the trail, Prein&Newhof hired Landscape architect Jim Morgan of RJM Design Inc. to consult on the trail, bridges and other amenities.

Maintenance is paid from a permanent maintenance endowment from the Meijer Foundation, ensuring its sustainability over time.

The City of Ionia managed the project, with assistance of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The project was funded by grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Trust Fund (MDNRTF) and the MDOT Transportation Enhancement Program as well as local and private fundraising.



The American Public Works Association named Fred Meijer Grand River Valley Trail its 2013 Project of the Year.


Project Manager Scott Post, PE, (616) 364-8491

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