By Scott Post, PE
Whenever I meet with a new non-motorized trails group or client, one of the first questions I am asked is, “Where can we get grants to pay for our trail?” If your group or community is planning a non-motorized trail, check out my seven favorite trail funding sources:
- Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund (For example, Cannon trail)
Grants a maximum of $300,000 per project. Applications are due April 1 each year.
- MDOT’s Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) (For example, Fred Meijer CIS Trail between Ionia and Owosso)
Emphasizes regional trail connectivity.
- MDOT’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program (For example, Blue Star Trail)
Can be used if your community is in a non-attainment zone for air quality. Trails can be constructed to provide access for alternative modes of transportation.
- Recreation or trails millages (For example, Spring Lake Township)
Many communities have successfully passed trail millages to use for the development and maintenance of trail projects.
- Benefactors and Foundations (For example, Greenville Trail)
Often local corporations in your community may see this as an opportunity to give back.
- Fund Drives (For examples, Big Rapids’ Access for All for the Riverwalk)
Many local organizations will assist with fundraising for community projects that they support.
- MDOT’s Safe Routes to School program (For example, Allegan’s Monroe Street)
Safe Routes to School funding will require a community non-motorized plan and the adoption of a Complete Streets ordinance.
Depending on your project, there are often creative ways to match funding sources with each other for a greater impact in funding your project! If you are wondering how to pay for your trail project, I would love to hear from you.
Scott Post is a board member at the West Michigan Trails and Greenways Coalition. He has designed nearly 150 miles of non-motorized trails in Michigan.