Detroit RiverWalk link features path over water

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News

Detroit — Newly released renderings of a proposed link for the Detroit RiverWalk show it would jut onto the river and connect the 3.5-mile pedestrian/bicycle trail with West Riverfront Park.

An updated design shows the new RiverWalk link that connects the larger pedestrian/bike path with West Riverfront Park.

The updated images highlight a public RiverWalk path that sits atop the Detroit River and is 17 feet from the current water’s edge, which is private property. The property is part of the Riverfront Towers, a rental and condominium complex. The residential complex, made up of three residential towers, is just west of Joe Louis Arena.

Residents were shown the images Thursday evening at a meeting with representatives of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, the nonprofit that runs the RiverWalk. The updated designs revealed more security measures than previous plans released last year. Other updates include a private access point for the residents to the public path. Plans also include an adjacent new marina, with 36 slips, that would be built by the owners of the residential complex.

The RiverWalk is one the city’s most popular attractions with more than 3 million people using some part of the downtown path annually. The main portion of the pedestrian/bike path spans from Gabriel Richard Park near Belle Isle to Joe Louis Arena.

Currently, the western point of the main path ends at Joe Louis Arena and then veers away from the riverfront and onto Jefferson Avenue to get around the Riverfront Towers. The path then reconnects to the waterfront at West Riverfront Park.

The new link would mean the path stays on the riverfront, using the new waterborne path to get around the residential complex and connect to West Riverfront Park.

No fishing, benches or planters will be permitted along the boardwalk. Signs will indicate "quiet zone" and the boardwalk will be closed with a barricade afterhours.

“This is the culmination of years and years of work,” retired U.S Sen. Carl Levin said Thursday. Levin is on the board of directors of the Riverfront Conservancy. Prior to his 36 years as a U.S. senator, he was on the Detroit City Council in the 1970s.

“I remember talking about this idea back then,” referring to his time on City Council. “We knew it would be great. Finally, it’s happening.”

Work on the new link is expected to begin this fall and will take more than a year to complete, officials said.

The waterborne path in front of Riverfront Towers is just one piece of the new link that would go through three separately owned properties at the site.

West Riverfront Park is a 22-acre site between Rosa Parks Boulevard and Eighth Street. The park has been open to the public since 2014.

The public will soon see conceptual renderings and models of what West Riverfront Park could look like. A Feb. 8 meeting is planned to give the public its first chance to see presentations from the four finalist firms that are competing to redesign the park.

Beginning on Feb. 10, the renderings will be on display for two weeks during a public exhibition at 1001 Woodward downtown.

Twitter: @LouisAguilar_DN