A new $240 million greenway continues to take shape in Detroit and portions of Wayne County that will eventually connect nearly two dozen neighborhoods and give pedestrians and bikers a place to explore as early as next spring.
Stretching 27.5 miles, the Joe Louis Greenway will be a biking and walking trail extending from the Detroit Riverfront to Highland Park, Dearborn and Hamtramck. It also will connect to the Dequindre Cut.
Jeremy Thomas, Detroit’s communications and marketing manager, said that Detroit “has never seen anything like it (the greenway) in terms of scale or impact.” When it’s finished, officials estimate 40,000 people will be within a 10-minute walk to the greenway.
Its impact “will extend far beyond the boundaries of the path itself, creating opportunities for Detroiters to thrive,” said Thomas in an email.
The Warren Avenue to Joy Road section of the greenway is anticipated to open next spring and Joy Road to Fullerton Avenue is expected to open next fall.
In addition to connecting 23 neighborhoods and four different cities, the greenway, which will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Oct. 29 at Detroit’s Laker Park, will feature a pavilion with a community room, a fitness station, an open lawn for family gatherings, a playground and two new passive green spaces.
Construction started in spring 2021 on the greenway and is estimated to take 10 years to complete. Crews are currently working on a segment near Warren Avenue and Joy Road on Detroit’s west side where Breon Lewis, 43, grew up.
Lewis has been anticipating the completion of the greenway since he learned about it.
The area was beautiful while he was growing up but now it’s “bad,” he said.
“When I went to visit my family (in Detroit), I still see debris on the curbside and overgrown weeds, little has changed,” said Lewis, a draglink assembly worker in Lansing.
Still, he is optimistic about the greenway’s impact.
“It’s a bonus to be in a city that would be bike friendly,” he said.
Debris removal, pathway construction, environmental remediation, storm water management, landscaping, seating, lighting, and Wi-Fi are some of the changes that will occur during the making of greenway.
Thomas said while connecting with residents, city officials have often heard about the need to “heal historical injustices and create spaces that serve communities of color first, as well as the need to unify our neighborhoods.”
“We believe the greenway will do just that,” Thomas said.
One part of the project will even include special signage with stories from the neighborhood through a $45,000 grant from the Community Foundation’s Wilson Legacy Funds for Design Access. The pilot project will be focused on the one-mile stretch between Warren and Joy, honoring the legacy neighborhoods of Midwest and Barton McFarland.
Construction will start on other segments of the greenway in 2023 and 2024, with overall completion slated for the next five to 10 years depending on funding, according to its website.