The St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD), Metro East Park and Recreation District (MERPD) and Eckert’s Orchards are teaming up to create a more connected county. The future Orchard Loop Trail is an eight-mile trail loop in southeast Belleville. The trail will connect seven subdivisions, a middle school, the MetroBikeLink and the Eckert Orchard Farm. This trail extension will increase SCCTD’s trail mileage by nearly 40 percent.
In recent years Eckert’s operations have been hindered by the continued traffic growth along Green Mount Road. Eckert’s was considering building a bridge over Green Mount Road in an effort to provide better access to their location. About the same time, SCCTD began developing plans for a trail loop in southeast Belleville. The public-private partnership made sense.
Eckert’s Orchards donated a permanent easement for 2.1 miles of trail. The new bridge will have a dedicated bike/pedestrian lane for public use. Along with Eckert’s, the Cathedral Catholic Church also donated permanent easement for the project along with PMC Hayes Mechanical and Belle Valley Middle School.
The Orchard Loop Trail project is laid out in three phases, the first of which is already underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. Phase I will connect MetroBikeLink at Fox Valley Subdivision to Eckert’s Orchard. Phase II will take the trail up and over Green Mount Road via a bridge, and continue northward toward The Orchard Subdivision entrance and is planned for construction throughout 2019. Phase III will complete the loop and connect back to the MetroBikeLink via Plum Hill and Brook Hill Subdivisions.
“This addition to our trail network is an important example of how strategic collaboration can connect our community to the people and places that matter to them. We work every day to make St. Clair County a better connected community through projects like this – not to mention it provides a great connection to the world class transit system we have in St. Clair County through the MetroBikeLink,” said Chairman of St. Clair County Transit District Board Richard Meile.