PAW PAW — With the support of Market Van Buren economic development group, Paw Paw Township has landed a $57,600 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to explore the possibility of rerouting trucks away from downtown Paw Paw through the development of an industrial road.

Each day, up to 300 semi-trucks pass through downtown Paw Paw delivering and picking up products from local manufacturers, according to Paw Paw Township Supervisor Don Stull.

“Our community has spent many years voicing the desire to remove truck traffic from downtown,” Stull said. “Removing the heavy truck traffic will make downtown more walkable and outdoor dining more enjoyable, which will help support our downtown businesses.”

In September, the Board of Paw Paw Township heard a proposal from Abonmarche to conduct a feasibility study to explore the possibility of extending Ampey Road into an industrial drive. The proposal includes an overview of the proposed project timeline and deliverables. The study costs a total of $64,000. The township board agreed to pay the 10 percent match of $6,400 to allow the study to proceed.

“The current volume of truck traffic is very disruptive to the downtown area, and the downtown route is not easy for semi-trucks to navigate,” said Zach Morris, Executive Director of Market Van Buren. “Rerouting truck traffic will have the benefit of both improving the downtown area and making it easier for local manufacturers to get their products out of Paw Paw and to their respective markets.”

If developed, the proposed industrial drive would route commercial traffic from the highway to Ampey Road, which would be extended to connect with 38th Street.

“We are pleased to be a part of this process and support Paw Paw Township’s search for a viable solution of the current level of truck traffic,” said Tony McGhee, vice president of Development Services at Abonmarche. “A feasibility study is an essential first step toward developing a more walkable and accessible community.”