Most ride, run and walk the trails throughout the city of Detroit without knowing who helped create them.
One person you should know is our good friend, the recently-retired Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works, Jose Abraham.
Jose started as a Dequindre Cut skeptic. Why convert this decrepit, abandoned rail corridor into a trail? Will it get used?
However, once it was built, he saw its potential and fully bought in. He led efforts on the Dequindre Cut Extension, part of the Link Detroit project. One highlight was landing a major federal TIGER grant to help fund it. Though the city had requested $15 million, the feds only approved $10 million — still a substantial grant.
We’ll never forget an initial TIGER grant meeting with Federal Highway Administration officials where Jose asked if we could scale back the project since we didn’t get all the funding that was requested. The officials said no, the city needed to find another $5 million dollars elsewhere. After a bit of nervous laughter, the meeting continued — and Jose made it happen. (Fortunately the construction bids came in lower than anticipated, too.)
Even before the Extension was under construction, Jose was looking to do more. He picked up Coalition plans for an Inner Circle Greenway, a 26-mile trail encircling the city. “The mother of all non-motorized trails,” as he liked to say. Of course this trail was recently renamed as the Joe Louis Greenway.
We worked closely with him writing grants under his direction, including the successful $3.4 million Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and $1.2 million MDOT grants. These grants are now being used to acquire nearly 8 miles of abandoned Detroit Terminal Railroad property to close one of the biggest gaps in the Joe Louis Greenway.
We are certainly going to miss working with Jose on the numerous non-motorized projects happening all across Detroit, so many of which he played an instrumental role. This is especially true of the Joe Louis Greenway.
Thanks Jose for all you’ve done getting us to this point. You’re efforts will not be forgotten.