The City of Detroit and Conrail have reached agreement in principle for the sale of Conrail railroad property to complete the largest gap in the Inner Circle Greenway. A 26-mile non-motorized pathway, the Inner Circle Greenway connects the city’s neighborhoods and residents to Detroit assets like parks, commercial corridors, the riverfront and downtown. The Greenway makes use of existing paths like the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut, will upgrade existing bike lanes like those on the Southwest Detroit Greenlink and build new on and off-road infrastructure to complete the 26-mile loop.

The agreement will see the city acquire 76 acres of land from Conrail for $4.3 million to build a new off-road greenway through Detroit, similar to the Dequindre Cut. The city will be reimbursed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation. The sale, which is still subject to Conrail board and City Council approval, is initially scheduled for detailed design and construction preparation to begin this fall.

”The Inner Circle Greenway is going to connect Detroiters from every corner of the city to some of our greatest resources,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Residents will have a safe and reliable non-motorized path of greenways and bike lanes connecting them to the river front, eastern market, parks across the city and more.”

Conrail Vice President and Chief Counsel, Jonathan Broder, noted “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.  As a small contribution to this effort, we’ll be putting $500,000 from the sale into an escrow account to contribute towards remediation work along the route.”

The 7.5 mile stretch runs along the historic Detroit Terminal Railroad that supplied resources and parts to assemble Ford Model T automobiles. The property runs through dozens of neighborhoods in Detroit, and also through Highland Park and along the Detroit’s border with Dearborn. It will feature bike lanes, pedestrian paths, seating, lighting, public safety elements and other amenities.

“Premiere recreational opportunities are essential to continuing to make Detroit a great place to live, work and play,” said Keith Creagh, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “The Inner Circle Greenway will help connect neighborhoods and provide residents fresh opportunities to get healthy and have fun. We appreciate the commitment from the City of Detroit and Conrail to make this agreement a reality. “

The goal of the greenway is to connect neighborhoods previously separated by freeways and disjointed transit via pedestrian and bike paths. The greenway will connect residents to small businesses and commercial corridors previously too difficult to access by foot and will also connect residents to public open spaces like Palmer Park, Clark Park, Lasky Park and the riverfront. The greenway runs through a number of neighborhoods, including Russell Woods, Fitzgerald, and Banglatown, covering five of the seven city council districts. Residents in these neighborhoods will be able to use the Inner Circle Greenway to travel safely and efficiently all the way from 8 Mile to the riverfront.

The greenway will improve transit opportunities for Detroiters, especially the 25 percent of residents without access to cars, providing reliable, safe, and affordable routes vital to accessing transit, jobs, training centers, neighborhood services, and civic amenities. Several employers are located on the proposed routes, including universities and health care systems. Service providers Focus: HOPE and the Neighborhood Services Organization are also along the greenway.

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