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News from the Trail – September 2020

Detroit Bike Tours

Last month we helped support Council members Scott Benson and Roy McCalister Jr. as they hosted three casual bike tours. The purpose of the rides was “to demonstrate to council members, other elected officials, and the city’s, and region’s transportation decision makers how bicycle lanes keep Detroiters safe.” These tours were also an opportunity to talk about traffic calming in the neighborhoods and green stormwater infrastructure (GSI). 

The rides began in Detroit’s Avenue of Fashion on Livernois, traveled north through Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge and back to Detroit. A highlight was having Ferndale Mayor Melanie Piana talk about how the bike lanes have helped attract new business to Livernois while providing a safe family-friendly travel option for residents to get those businesses. 

Other highlights:

  • The Alliance for the Great Lakes held a well-attended pre-tour event to discuss the new Livernois GSI and how stormwater will be managed in the bioswales. 
  • Representatives from Wayne County attended one of the tours and there was a initial discussion on improving Wayne County Roads for biking in Detroit, specifically E. Outer Drive. We are now looking at grant to help move this project forward.

More information on these tours (and more photos) are on our website and on Fox 2 Detroit.


Connecting the Rouge

Speaking of Wayne County, they are also working to extend the Rouge River Gateway Greenway. That trail currently connects Hines Drive to Michigan Avenue (near Andiamo’s). The long term plan is to extend that trail to the Detroit River. A new trail segment behind Greenfield Village is being designed now. 

How can you get involved? They have a short survey online to collect input on your trail use. There’s also a virtual community meeting planned for September 16th at 6pm. Information on how to join the meeting will be posted on the website prior to the 16th.

Meanwhile over in Rouge Park, the City of Detroit has added a two-way cycletrack along Spinozza Drive. They’ve also created this video to explain how it works. The design is very similar to the cycletrack in Palmer Park — which has apparently reduced speeding traffic. Vehicles used to regularly crash into the lightposts along this stretch of road, but none have done so since the cycletrack was installed. 

Also along the Rouge River, trail design work is underway at Rogell Park. The first community meeting is scheduled for September 23rd at 6:30pm. Watch for more forthcoming details on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.


Breaking News

All three of these issues are ongoing. This is what we know currently, so stay tuned for future updates.

  • Bike lane removals — Bike lanes on E. Grand Boulevard were removed during a recent repaving. After some research, we learned the city had a new policy of removing non-separated bike lanes when roads were repaved. This makes no sense to us as it makes roads less safe for all users to no ones benefit. Also, there was no community engagement on this in advance.  We’ve asked the Department of Public Works to rescind this policy. Council member Benson has also gotten involved.
  • Speed limit legislation — State Representative Bradley Slagh (R-Zeeland/Holland) is sponsoring a bill (HB 4733) that would clarify the flexibility in setting speed limits. Rather than strictly set speed limits based on the 85th fasted motorist under ideal road conditions, road agencies could use best engineering/safety practices and take into account road design, land use (e.g. nearby parks), pedestrian and bicyclist activity, crash history, etc. Without this flexibility, many main roads in Detroit could see higher speed limits due to the prevalence of speeding. The original bill removed that flexibility on state and county roads. We opposed that and have proposed alternative language. 
  • I-375 replacement delayed — MDOT asked SEMCOG to pull construction funding from the I-375 Alternatives project and delay it to 2027. We oppose this delay as does the City of Detroit, who is having an ongoing discussion with the state on keeping this project moving forward as planned. It appears to us that the Michigan Avenue (in Corktown) reconstruction funding has jumped ahead of I-375. 

Other Updates

  • Last month, Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved $28 million in Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) grants. This included $2.7 million for the May Creek Greenway, $300,000 for a portion of a new 6-mile trail on Belle Isle, and $300,000 for a Perrien Park renovation (at Chene and E. Warren). 
  • We are also a member of the Vote Yes for MI Water, Wildlife & Parks Coalition. Together we are supporting a November ballot proposal that ensures continued grant funding from the MNRTF and strikes a better balance between funding development and acquisition projects. Currently 75% of the grant funding is only for land acquisition (which Detroit typically doesn’t need to do.) If the proposal passes, a minimum of 25% would go towards acquisition and a minimum of 25% for development. 
  • We are also a supporting organization for the national Greenway Stimulus campaign, a call for a $10 billion federal infrastructure investment in regional trails and greenways to spur strong economic recovery and a healthy, equitable future.
  • The Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law last month, providing $900 million in permanent and dedicated annual funding for the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and funding to address the backlog of maintenance projects in our national parks and public lands. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy says, this bill is “considered by many to be the most impactful legislation for parks and the outdoors in decades.” The City of Detroit has a long history of using LWCF grant funding to improve its parks.
  • Speaking of grants, the City of Detroit received a Streets for Pandemic Response & Recovery grant from NACTO. This grant is to help “temporarily close streets near neighborhood schools and parks in Springwells, Warrendale, and northwest Detroit to create outdoor community hubs for young people and other residents. These partners will each program their own spaces tailored to the needs of the specific community where they are based, focusing on creating outdoor learning space, providing childcare, hosting enrichment activities, and creating street art.”
  • A new warehouse could replace the former Cadillac Stamping Plant along the Conner Creek Greenway/Iron Belle Trail, just south of the Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport. We’re involved because we don’t want truck traffic negatively impacting the trail. We also see this as an opportunity to replace an unused parking lot (circled in red) along the greenway with GSI and green buffering. While greenways are often viewed from a recreational standpoint, this trail could be a great option for local employees who chose to bike or walk to work.
  • The City of Detroit’s Joseph Campau resurfacing project includes a two-way cycletrack as part of the Joe Louis Greenway. It originally ran from the City of Hamtramck to the Davison Freeway, but that’s now been extended to McNichols. This project should be completed this year.

Additional Reading & Listening

Categories
Friends of the Joe Louis Greenway Greenways Newsletter

Friends of the Joe Louis Greenway – November 2019

Framework Plan Public Meetings

The City of Detroit is hosting two sessions titled “Joe Louis Greenway – Cocoa and Conversation”:

  • Wednesday, December 4th from 6-8pm at the Lexus Velodrome, 601 Mack Avenue (near I-75). Doors open at 5:30pm. The indoor walking track will be open and you can watch bicyclists riding on the track, too.
  • Tuesday, December 10th from 6-8pm at the Unity Baptist Church, 7500 Tireman Street. Doors open at 5:30pm.

It is expected that a updated draft of the Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan will be presented.

This will be the third and final set of community input sessions the City of Detroit and its design team are organizing.  During the first and second set of community input sessions participants discussed and voted on greenway design elements such as surface, buffers, landscaping, fencing and special features.  The Framework Planning will be completed by February 2020.

The planned Joe Louis Greenway is 32 miles and will be constructed in phases. Here is the City of Detroit’s most recent routing plan.

What’s Under Construction

The Joe Louis Greenway includes other trail and streetscape projects. Three of those are currently under construction.

  • Livernois Streetscape — There is a offshoot of the Greenway that heads north along Livernois and connects to Ferndale. Livernois between Margareta and Eight Mile is being completely reconstucted. Wider sidewalks and sidewalk-level bike lanes are included. Most of the construction will be completed this year. The Livernois businesses have suffered a bit during construction, so we’re encouraging everyone to patronize them whenever possible.
  • Bagley Streetscape — This is a short segment of the proposed Greenway route between I-75 and 24th Street in Mexicantown. The reconstruction is making this street look and feel more like a pedestrian plaza (that happens to be lined with great Mexican food!) Depending on the weather, this project should be completed this year.
  • Riverfront Extension — This is a portion of the RiverWalk that connects the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park (formerly West Riverfront Park) with the RiverWalk near the former Joe Louis Arena site. Concrete has been poured on portions of this segment. We expect this to be open sometime next year.
Categories
Greenways Newsletter

News from the Trail – November 2018

Please Vote

Trails like the Joe Louis Greenway are not on the ballot today, but the politicians making trail funding decisions are. We’re members of the Detroit Environmental Agenda and they have more voting information including Detroit Charter Revision Commissioners.

To make getting to the polls a bit easier, Lime scooters are offering free 30-minute rides today with the promo code LIME2VOTE2018.

Joe Louis Greenway

Framework Planning Proposals are due this week. With this being such a critical greenway planning process, we put together this brief article on what we think a winning proposal should include. First and foremost is community engagement. It’s a long trail and we want to make sure everyone gets the opportunity to participate in the design process. This is much more than just a trail project.

The city expects to review the proposals and award a contract by the end of the year.

$100 million for the RiverWalk and other Trails

You likely heard the great news that the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation pledged $100 million towards Detroit trails and the RiverWalk.

$40 million of that goes to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy’s West Riverfront Park project. As a result, the park was renamed to the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park. An additional $10 million goes into an endowment to fund the park’s long-term sustainability.

Another $40 million is for building regional, connecting trails in Southeast Michigan, including the Iron Belle Trail. We imagine the Joe Louis Greenway could potentially receive some of this funding. The last $10 million is also an endowment to help operate and maintain the these trails.

At the announcement ceremony, we had the opportunity to personally thank Mary Wilson and share some stories on how trails and bicycling are benefitting Detroiters in the neighborhoods. It’s more profound than most realize and it’s our role to share these stories.

Bike lanes: Planning, Building, Maintaining

Detroit has approved $125 million in road bonds to revitalize commerical corridors. About $80 million of that targets major infrastructure improvements on key corridors, which includes Complete Streets and stormwater designs. The following should be under construction next year:

  • Livernois (Puritan to Eight Mile Road). The last we heard the infamous median will be removed, the sidewalks widened, and bike lanes added.
  • W. McNichols (Marygrove College to UDM). This includes both an sidepath trail segment and bike lanes. The Fitzgerald Greenway just south of McNichols will also be under construction next year.

E. Jefferson will also get this road funding. We recently attended the initial stakeholder planning meeting. A public meeting is tentatively planned for December 12th. We’ll share more information as we get it. In the meantime, the city is offering office hours at the Elmwood Park Public Library on Tuesdays from 5 to 7pm on Nov. 20th, Dec. 4th, and December 18thif you would like to learn more.

Our Hamilton Avenue bike lane project in Highland Park continues to move forward. If all goes as planned, we are expect that project to be constructed next year.

MDOT has also started planning for a major streetscape project on Grand River Avenue from the Southfield freeway to Berg Road. At a recent community meeting, most of the resident and business concerns focused on speeding cars and pedestrian safety. Bike lanes are also being discussed and MDOT is trying to find additional funding to continue this design from the Southfield to I-94.

One would expect news to slow as the weather turns chilly, but that’s certainly not the case.


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