- The FCA Expansion at Jefferson North will have major impacts on the surrounding greenways and trails.
- Vacating St. Jean Street removes a critical segment of the Conner Creek Greenway and Iron Belle Trail. Fortunately both can be re-routed.
- Improved greenways and trails, green space, green stormwater infrastructure, and public access to the riverfront should all be included as part of this expansion.
Below is our letter to city officials, the neighborhood advisory council, and FCA that details the impacts and proposed solutions to the FCA Expansion impacts.
The Detroit Greenways Coalition (DGC) supports the City’s effort to bring more manufacturing jobs to Detroit through the proposed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) Mack Avenue Assembly Complex on the city’s east side. Our organizations focus is to encourage and protect a network of greenways, green spaces for non-motorized transportation for community use. As this plan is further developed we are concerned about losing the existing non-motorized infrastructure around the proposed plant, including portions of the Conner Creek Greenway and Iron Belle Trail.
We would like to see that the development plans are aware of these existing features and that they be either protected or reconfigured to meet community needs. We also see this project as an opportunity to replace the lost “green spaces” and add even more “green” to the area through additional trees and appropriate green storm water infrastructure (GSI).
Mitigating the loss of St. Jean
Currently both the Conner Creek Greenway (CCG) and Iron Belle Trail (IBT) use the existing bike lanes and bike sharrows on St. Jean from Kercheval to Warren. The CCG master plan used both St. Jean and Conner Street. It made St. Jean the primary route due to it having less truck traffic, fewer curb cuts, and more greenery compared with Conner St. The CCG has less flexibility in using other routes since it follows the historic route of the Conner Creek, must cross I-94 at Conner Avenue, and terminates at Maheras-Gentry Park.
Any changes to the CCG should be discussed with the Detroit Eastside Community Collaborative (DECC), the CDC that developed and implemented this greenway.
The IBT joins the CCG at Kercheval and heads north with it beyond Eight Mile Road. We believe the IBT could be routed differently to avoid St. Jean. However, bringing the IBT to the plant would be a great opportunity to highlight Detroit’s automotive heritage.
FCA and the City of Detroit should:
- Work with the DGC and DECC to move the CCG primary routing from St. Jean (and a portion of Shoemaker) to Conner. This would also require the city make improvements to existing protected bike lanes so that they are continuous on both sides of the E. Warren intersection. It would also require updates to existing CCG wayfinding.
- Improve the existing Conner bike lanes by replacing the posts with curbs and GSI infrastructure. Improve access management along the corridor to consolidate curb cuts.
- Work with the DGC to propose routing of the IBT preferably along a new shared-use path along the western boundary of the FCA footprint. This could be a good opportunity to highlight the Dodge Brothers history with bicycle design, racing, and manufacturing.
- Support ongoing efforts with the E. Jefferson streetscape project.
- Maintain and/or improve the existing buffered bike lanes on the Mack Avenue Bridge.
- Plan and implement a non-motorized route around the boundaries of the FCA footprint. Such a route would be approximately 5K (3.2 miles) when Mack is used and could be incorporated into future FCA wellness and community programing.
- Incorporate more trees and GSI into all of the above recommendations. An Alliance for the Great Lakes/DGC study has already identified potential green storm water infrastructure site along this corridor and should be used.
- Preserve green space and public access to the river at the location of the DTE Conner Creek Power Plant. The 2012 Visions of Greenways plan for the Greater Riverfront East District called for an extension of the RiverWalk adjacent to, if not through these parcels. The DTE-FCA land transfer should not jeopardize that vision for a publicly accessible non-motorized greenway along the riverfront.
- Coordinate all infrastructure efforts with Great Lakes Water Authority’s plans for a new water line from Waterworks Park to their Northeast Water Treatment Plant.
- Manage truck traffic through street design to ensure it remains on the designated truck routes and minimizes conflicts with bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Provide funding and support for educational materials letting motorists and bicyclists how to drive or ride safely around the neighboring streets.