Detroit gets $2M grant for Inner Circle Greenway effort

Charles E. Ramirez, The Detroit News
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Detroit has been awarded a $2 million grant for design plans to finish a pedestrian and bike path that encircles the city, officials said.

They said the grant, which will be used for the Inner Circle Greenway, comes from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

“Thanks to the Wilson Foundation, the city of Detroit is one step closer to getting a network of greenways that will take Detroiters from 8 Mile to the Riverfront and everywhere in between,” Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement Thursday. “Whether it’s a resident biking to work or a family heading to one of our parks for a Saturday afternoon, the Inner Circle Greenway is connecting our citizens to everything our city has to offer.”

The Inner Circle Greenway’s plans call for building a 26-mile non-motorized pathway that encircles Detroit and travels through Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn. It will use other existing and planned paths, including the Detroit RiverWalk, Dequindre Cut, Southwest Detroit Greenlink, and the Iron Belle Trail.

Half of the Greenway was built as of April 2016, according to the Detroit Greenways Coalition, a group that has been working to make the city more bike-friendly and walkable since 2007.

“With a careful and thoughtful design that ties together and connects the entire 26-mile greenway, residents will not only have better access to recreation, but also to more goods and services, and educational and employment opportunities,” said David Egner, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation’s president and CEO.

The Metro Detroit-based foundation was created by native Detroiter Ralph Wilson, who founded the Buffalo Bills football team in 1959. Wilson died in 2014 at the age of 95.

Duggan said the grant will be used to fund the design and preconstruction phases of all uncompleted portions of the project.

One of the unfinished portions is property the city acquired last month from Conrail. The 7.5-mile railroad property, which borders Dearborn, stretches through dozens of Detroit neighborhoods — including Russell Woods, Fitzgerald and Banglatown as well as the city of Highland Park.

City officials said they will release a request for proposals for framework consultants later this summer. Studies, surveys and the community engagement process with residents living near the greenway will start in the fall and wrap up by early spring of next year, they said. The entire project is expected to be finished by fall 2019.

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