Detroit — The city reached a $4.3 million deal with Conrail to acquire a 7.5-mile railroad property that will complete a pedestrian and bike pathway encircling Detroit.

The acquisition, announced Thursday, fills the largest gap in the 26-mile Inner Circle Greenway, which connects residents and neighborhoods to parks, commercial areas, the Detroit riverfront and downtown.

Officials say they expect to start design and construction on the greenway this fall once it’s approved by the City Council.

Mayor Mike Duggan said on Thursday the plan to acquire the portion of the greenway has been “years in the making.”

“The Inner Circle Greenway is going to connect Detroiters from every corner of the city to some of our greatest resources,” Duggan said in a statement. “Residents will have a safe and reliable nonmotorized path of greenways and bike lanes connecting them to the riverfront, Eastern Market, parks across the city and more.”

The railroad property stretches through dozens of neighborhoods — including Russell Woods, Fitzgerald, Banglatown; and Highland Park. It borders Dearborn.

The city said the Inner Circle Greenway is meant to improve transit options for Detroit residents, particularly those who don’t have cars and need access to jobs, services and civic amenities.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation will reimburse Detroit for the property, according to the city.

Conrail said it plans to allocate $500,000 from the sale to an escrow account for work along the trail.

“Conrail has been part of the Detroit community for decades, and we’re so happy that this deal will help to further improve the community for generations to come,” said Conrail Vice President and Chief Counsel, Jonathan Broder in a release.

Foundations and nonprofits have been working for decades on trail development in southeast Michigan, bringing dollars to local cites to shape local trails and push ambitions plans to link a 1,259-mile hiking trail from Detroit to the Upper Peninsula.

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Detroit News Staff Writer Christine Ferretti contributed


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