Southwest Detroit residents are being asked to weigh in on the proposed path and design features of the Joe Louis Greenway as construction continues on the city-spanning trail loop.
City officials held a Wednesday engagement meeting in Clark Park to discuss a portion of the paved path connecting residents in the Mexicantown and Hubbard Richard neighborhoods to the 27.5-mile recreational pathway. Another community meeting will be held this month to gather feedback on the design as well as another southwest connection of the path in the Del Ray and Springwells neighborhoods.
Residents were involved in a framework plan for the greenway that was created in 2019, but city planners are giving Detroiters more chances to influence decisions about the route.
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“As we talk about the route of the greenway, the vision residents came up with is about equity and equality, it’s about connecting people to places, it’s about quality of life,” said Joe Louis Greenway Project Manager Christina Peltier. “We’re not going to stay locked into something if it doesn’t make sense anymore.”
Residents can weigh in at 5 p.m., Sept. 21 through a Department of Neighborhoods online outreach meeting
Roughly a dozen residents attended the Clark Park event and voiced a desire to slow down traffic on local streets along I-75. Most supported a design change to run the greenway from West Grand Boulevard to West Lafayette Boulevard along the south end of the park. The route would have traveled along Fort Street under a previous version of the design, but city planners said heavy truck traffic associated with the Canadian border caused them to reconsider.
Residents have also been protective of Clark Park, Peltier said. Detroiters don’t want more concrete added to the park, but community leaders have asked for the greenway route to connect to the park and nearby schools, she said.
A proposed route shared with residents would create a two-lane, on-street bicycle path on the north side of West Lafayette. Users would move onto an expanded sidewalk path outside the Yorba Hotel before rejoining an off-street path with separate lanes for pedestrians and cyclists on the south end of Clark Park.
Richard Dunlop’s bicycle is his primary mode of transportation after experiencing a medical issue that keeps him from driving a car. Dunlop said planners should ensure bike lanes have ample distance from on-street parking, because he’s almost been knocked down by motorists who carelessly open their doors into the bike lane.
The Michigan Department of Transportation owns sections of land to the west of Clark Park that would need to be transferred to the city in order to continue the route west to Junction Avenue and south to a bike pathway on Campbell Street included in the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
The project is contributing $1 million in Canadian dollars to bike lanes through a community benefits plan. City planners are considering adding bike lanes to connect West Jefferson along the Detroit River to Clark Street up to the greenway on West Lafayette.
Meanwhile, new sections of the greenway are under construction. Residents can attend the opening of the Warren Gateway Park on Oct. 31.
The entire greenway is expected to cost around $240 million. The city is still working to secure more funding to complete the project.
Residents can see what stretches of the greenway are open, check the status of construction and view sections that have not received funding through an online map.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the latest public input meeting schedule.