The City of Detroit Department of Public Works (DPW) wants to continue beautifying city neighborhoods by improving streetscapes and making them easier to navigate for pedestrians and cyclists. The City will begin construction on three streetscape projects in Corktown, West and East Warren next spring. The work is part of an $80 million investment to improve walkability and access to the city’s commercial corridors, much of it as part of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund initiative.  

As part of the East Warren-Cadieux SNF plan, East Warren Avenue between 3 Mile and Cadieux — near Morningside and East English Village — is slated to get a $7.9 million series of improvements that include landscaping and a lighting upgrade. New street furniture, like trash cans, bike racks and benches, will be installed. Street improvements will include crosswalks and pedestrian islands, along with resurfaced sidewalks and streets. 

As part of the Strategic Neighborhood Fund, the City of Detroit will begin another streetscape overhaul for the East Warren business district between 3 Mile and Cadieux in 2022. Residents can give their thoughts on City plans at a Dec. 16 public meeting. (City of Detroit)

The West Warren area — part of the Warrendale-Cody Rouge SNF plan — is also getting a streetscape upgrade between the Southfield Freeway and Mettetal Street. This project, which will cost about $5.3 million, will include new lighting, landscaping, benches and pedestrian crosswalks. Unlike East Warren, this plan doesn’t include bike lanes because residents didn’t advocate for adding them in the planning meetings. 

The City and Ford Motor Co. wanted to improve pedestrian traffic near the automaker’s 30-acre Michigan Innovation Center project near 15th Street in Corktown and will begin to improve the streetscape in spring 2022. (City of Detroit)

The third upgrade is planned for Corktown. The 15th Street Streetscape project, located between Bagley and Dalzelle, is being planned in partnership with Ford Motor Co., instead of through the SNF initiative. Last year, Ford announced its plans to create a walkable, 30-acre community near its soon to be redeveloped Michigan Central Station. The $3 million in improvements will include a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly street design between Bagley and Marantette, and a protected bike lane between Marantette and Dalzelle. It also includes additional lighting, landscaping and new benches. Ford agreed to undertake some of the maintenance.

The Livernois Avenue streetscape project, started in 2019, was one of the first Strategic Neighborhood Fund streetscapes the Department of Public Works began. Now that it is finished, Detroiters in that area can enjoy a more pedestrian-friendly business district on the city’s northwest side. (Streets For People, City of Detroit Flickr)

There are 14 streetscape projects currently underway or finished throughout the city, including the completed SNF overhauls of Livernois, McNichols, Grand River and Kercheval. All of the projects were funded by a $125 million bond program specifically aimed at improving city neighborhoods that City Council approved in 2017, except the 15th Street project, which is being funded through the state’s gas tax, which is solely used for improving roads, according to Deputy Director for DPW Dayo Akinyemi. 

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Akinyemi said another streetscape was being planned in Virginia Park on Rosa Parks Boulevard, but residents objected to the design during planning meetings. Akinyemi said residents did not want to add bike lanes. 

“We got a lot of resident feedback, so we decided to meet one more time this month, and if we can get community support for a plan similar to the one we made, we will go forward,” Akinyemi said. “Otherwise, we will go back to the drawing board.”

That community meeting which will address both Corktown and Virginia Park projects will be held on Dec. 16. 

Erika Linenfelser, Complete Streets Project Manager, said during a presentation at a public meeting that the plans for both projects came from at least five Planning & Development Department meetings, where the City gathered resident input on quality of life upgrades. 

“This came out of the neighborhood plan that was done for the area,” Linenfelser said during the meeting. “And we have done a number of community meetings, and we’re very close to wrapping up the drawings (for both projects).”

Residents in the meeting raised questions about the proposed changes, and asked what economic impact the projects might have on residents who live in these areas. A resident who simply went by the name Barry at the meeting asked whether these projects would raise property values or taxes. 

Kim Tandy, district manager for District 2, said during the meeting that the projects should improve the communities.

“The purpose of these is to improve quality of life, not increase taxes,” Tandy said during the meeting. “We can’t raise taxes legally just because property values went up in a year. In other words, there won’t be some steep incline that prices people out.”

Resident Trina Ross asked how the three areas were selected and how she could request funding for the Brightmoor neighborhood. 

Linenfelser said the current project areas were chosen by City officials and residents during Strategic Neighborhood Fund planning meetings. 

“I don’t know exactly what the plans are to expand beyond the (10) neighborhoods that we have done these neighborhood plans in, and then our streetscape projects, but there should be additional ones in the future that I can’t provide any specific details on yet,” she said. 

You can find out more about the streetscape projects that have already been completed and the ones that are scheduled to begin construction next year at the Department of Public Works website

This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Erika Linenfelser’s name.

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

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