Funds to benefit pedestrians, bikers in Muskegon County

LANSING — Federal and local funds will be used to make roads safer for pedestrian and bicycle traffic in Muskegon County, said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart.

“These improvements will help ensure that bikers and pedestrians can safely travel on Black Lake Road,” Hansen said. “I’m glad to see these funds dedicated to a worthwhile project that will enable residents of Muskegon County to get out and be active in their community. This is great news.”

The city of Norton Shores will use $259,556 in federal Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds and $111,238 of its own money to construct 5.5-foot-wide bituminous paved shoulders along both sides of Black Lake Road for more than a mile between Pontaluna Road and the Muskegon/Ottawa County line.

The $370,794 project will connect the existing paved shoulders that share the same function at Pontaluna Road to a future bike path along Black Lake Road in Ottawa County.

The paved shoulders will accommodate P.J. Hoffmaster State Park visitors and help further develop the local and county nonmotorized master plans, as well as the proposed U.S. 35 Bike Route through the Muskegon area.

According to the Michigan Department of Transportation’s website, the TE program is a competitive grant program that funds projects such as nonmotorized paths, streetscapes, and historic preservation of transportation facilities. Administered by MDOT, these investments enhance Michigan’s transportation system by providing choices, promoting walkability and improving safety.

More information on the Transportation Enhancement program is available at:


Sen. Hansen: Keep Coast Guard helicopter unit in Muskegon

LANSING — Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, plans to introduce a resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to reject a proposal to eliminate the search and rescue U.S. Coast Guard helicopter unit in Muskegon County.

“As a former first responder, I know firsthand that time is of the essence when it comes to saving lives,” Hansen said. “With the heavy boat traffic on Lake Michigan, having a Coast Guard helicopter unit nearby is paramount to public safety.”

Hansen served as a first responder (emergency medical technician and firefighter) for 20 years.

The next closest stations for west Michigan are in Chicago (115 miles south) and Traverse City (113 miles north). The president’s proposal to close the Muskegon unit also calls for reducing the number of helicopters in the Traverse City air station.

Since 2005, the Muskegon Coast search and rescue team has responded to 182 cases on southern Lake Michigan. The team also responds to homeland security situations, and being only 250 miles from Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, the helicopter units provide additional support necessary to protect national borders.

At 307 miles long and 118 miles wide, Lake Michigan is the second largest of the Great Lakes. More than 950,000 recreational vessels are registered in Michigan and an estimated 182,000 recreational boaters (from multiple states) operate on Lake Michigan at some time during the year.

Additionally, between May and September, the S.S. Badger car ferry and the Lake Express car ferry each make two daily trips across the lake ferrying hundreds of passengers on each voyage.

“Michigan is known far and wide as the ‘Great Lakes State.’ Boaters from across the country travel here to take in our state’s natural beauty,” Hansen said. “With such a high number of recreational boaters, we need the Muskegon unit and the Traverse City facility. I strongly urge Congress to do what is in the best interest of public safety and reject this proposal.”