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A smooth new half-mile addition to the Dequindre Cut Greenway formally opened Friday and even the gray cold weather didn’t chill the mass happiness on display at the path’s debut.

Couples with young children, seniors on bicycles, Detroit Public Schools musicians and smiling politicians all mingled around the Wilkins Street Plaza — also new and clean — near the edge of Eastern Market. The plaza leads to the below-street level addition of the Dequindre Cut. A community celebration will held Saturday at the same location from 11 a.m to 3 p.m.

The Dequindre Cut is the former Grand Trunk Western Railroad line that has become a popular bike and pedestrian path. Up until now, it stretched from the Detroit Riverwalk near the William G. Milliken State Park & Harbor to Gratiot, where it ends just before Eastern Market.

The new addition goes from Gratiot north to Mack. It has the same Detroit Zen feel of the older portion of the cut, which opened in 2009. The path is smooth and clearly marked and is enclosed by well-managed green space. Thick concrete walls — remnants when the path was a railroad line — are covered with tasteful graffiti that’s been curated by the greenway’s manager, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.

“Today is a major milestone for Detroit,” said U S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, who has played a key role in securing $10 million in federal funds for Detroit’s expanding urban greenways.

“Residents and visitors can now walk or bike from the riverfront, through Eastern Market, to Midtown and Hamtramck,” Stabenow said.

She was referring to 20 miles of connected urban greenways that includes the Dequindre Cut. A consortium of government and non-profit groups, called Link Detroit, are overseeing linking those greenways.

“This is such a wonderful thing. I’m very excited to use it and see others use it, ” said Shaun Nethercott, an avid bicyclist and founder of the Matrix Theatre Co. in southwest Detroit.

Nethercott is writing book based on her experience of riding a bike from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, accompanied by her husband, Wes.

The extended Dequindre Cut marks the completion of $21 million in completed projects. The other finished work includes:

Eastern Market streetscape enhancement

The street curbs on Russell were improved, along with the addition of bicycle lanes, LED streetlights, and new trees and greenery. A new bicycle parking structure was installed at the district’s main parking lot at the corner of Russell and Wilkins. The market also features easy access to the Dequindre Cut Greenway.

Midtown Loop, Phase IV

The new Dequindre greenway now connects Midtown and its cultural attractions directly to Eastern Market. The Midtown Loop is a 3.5-mile greenway that began construction in 2010. Phases I, II and IV are complete, with the final phase, which will run from Midtown to downtown, wrapping up construction this fall.

Hamtramck Connector

With the Dequindre Cut now ending at ground level at Mack, another two miles of on- and off-street bike lanes were completed to link Eastern Market and the riverfront to Hamtramck and its planned greenway system.

Bridge reconstruction

Three bridges that run over the Dequindre Cut at Adelaide, Division and Wilkins streets were reconstructed. Another, the Alfred Street bridge, was removed.

laguilar@detroitnews.com

Twitter: LouisAguilar_DN

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