Joe Louis Greenway

The 27.5 mile Joe Louis Greenway is a planned biking and walking trail that extends from the Detroit Riverfront to Highland Park, Dearborn, and Hamtramck. It also includes connectors along Livernois and McNichols. The Joe Louis Greenway will include the Dequindre Cut and portions of the Detroit RiverWalk, as well as portions of the planned Iron Belle Trail and Southwest Greenway.

When completed, it will provide a place for people of all abilities to safely walk, bike, and run while connecting neighborhoods, parks, schools, jobs, historic sites, commercial corridors and public transit.

This greenway concept began with the Friends of the Inner Circle Greenway in 2007 and became part of the Detroit Greenways Coalition Network Vision in 2009. Using other existing trails and plans, the Coalition modified the routing, advocated for its development, and worked closely with the city of Detroit. In 2017, Mayor Mike Duggan announced plans to rename the Inner Circle Greenway after legendary boxer and Detroiter, Joe Louis.

The City of Detroit is acquiring 7.5 miles of abandoned Conrail railroad property using grants from Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund and MDOT. This railroad property, formerly the Detroit Terminal Railroad will become the northern and western part of the Joe Louis Greenway loop. For those who have experienced the Dequindre Cut it’s hard not to be super excited about 7.5 more miles of former railroad property becoming a non-motorized greenway.

In 2017, the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation awarded $2 million to the City of Detroit to develop a framework plan and construction drawings for the project. In October of 2018 the city sought proposals to produce the framework plan. The City of Detroit announced in March of 2019 that the SmithGroup team was selected for the project. An advisory council has also been created, comprised of community members from each Detroit City Council Districts impacted by the route.

What’s a Framework Plan?

The Framework Plan is way of gathering community input and evaluating existing conditions before creating any final designs. It will:

  • Consider at existing land uses in the half-mile corridor on either side of the Greenway.
  • Include recommendations for land use, zoning, wayfinding and green infrastructure such as natural landscaping and effective stormwater management techniques.
  • Determine the trail’s alignment, access points, connections to nearby destinations, trails, public transit, and the new Gordie Howe International Bridge.
  • Identify the best pedestrian and bicycle design practices that make up a signature greenway.
  • Determine a phasing and implementation plan.

Community input will be an important part of this framework planning process. The greenway must reflect the needs and desires of the local communities through which is passes. Certainly many communities have issues and priorities that do not include a new trail, e.g. safety, blight, dumping, empty storefronts. This project may be an opportunity to get those issues addressed as well. This project is much more than just a trail. It’s an opportunity to bring additional investment and attention to the neighborhoods.

When will it get built?

The city of Detroit will finalize the design once the framework planning is complete sometime in 2020. The Detroit Strategic Plan for Transportation sets the following benchmarks to be completed by 2022:

  • Construct the next phase of the Joe Louis Greenway
  • Implement on-street sections of the Joe Louis Greenway through Road Bond Complete Streets projects

Mayor Duggan has committed $20 million to build the first phase of the greenway. The rest of the required funding has not yet been identified, but there are many other potential philanthropic, state, and federal grants available. For instance, the Wilson Foundation has pledged $40 million in funding for regional trail construction, which includes the Joe Louis Greenway.

City of Detroit web page

Jos Campau Construction

The City of Detroit is resurfacing Joseph Campau between Carpenter Avenue and E. McNichols. This is an on-road section of the Greenway and will get a protected two-way cycle track, as well as improved pedestrian crossings and raised bus boarding islands.

Previous Updates

A typical trail design

Additional Reading

7 replies on “Joe Louis Greenway”