Built on the bones of Detroit's abandoned Grand Trunk Railroad corridor, the Dequindre Cut has really made a name for itself over the last half a decade.
With its greenery and colorful murals set 25-feet below street level, the multi-use path offers an oasis for cyclists and pedestrians away from the bustle and congestion of the city's downtown. This atmosphere has made the 1.35 mile greenway a popular destination for both locals and out-of-towners looking for a picturesque setting to stroll or ride.
Right now, the Dequindre Cut only runs from the Riverwalk to Gratiot, but those who've recently rode or walked the pathway have no doubt noticed the construction at its northern edge.
So what's going on with Detroit's iconic greenway? The quick answer to that is there's going to be a whole lot more of it to enjoy in the near future.
The city of Detroit purchased a half mile of land from Grand Trunk Railroad in 2013 to extend the Cut from Gratiot to Mack. While construction on the extension was originally slated to wrap up in November 2014, issues like severe winter weather and utility conflicts delayed its opening.
At a quick glance, it might appear the new pathway is ready to go, but Detroit Public Works Deputy Director Jose Abraham says there's still some additional work that needs to be done.
"They have put some asphalt over there, but that is not the final coat," he tells Mode Shift.
Abraham is still waiting to get an updated contractor timeline, but says the project will likely be open by the end of September, barring any unforeseen obstacles.
In addition to laying down asphalt, workers rehabilitated three old bridges and tore down another one. Aside from the final paving, workers still need to take care of landscaping, lighting, call boxes and greenery.
The renovation also involves creating a new plaza at Wilkins Street, which will eventually link the Cut to another greenway called the Midtown Loop. This plaza will feature expanded sidewalks and amenities like a drinking fountain and added lighting for pedestrians.
"Greening of Detroit actually donated that property to the city at no cost to continue the pedestrian pathway from Midtown through Wilkins Street into the Dequindre Cut," says Abraham.
The extension is part of a larger endeavor called Link Detroit http://wearemodeshift.org/link-detroit-construction-begins-lets-celebrate that's focused on connecting cycling and walking infrastructure in Detroit and Hamtramck. It's being funded by a $10 million TIGER grant and financial support from the city of Detroit, Eastern Market Corporation, Midtown Detroit, Inc., Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.
Once completed, the new stretch will be overseen by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which already maintains the existing greenway.
Marc Pasco, Director of Communications for the conservancy, tells Mode Shift he's thrilled about what the new segment of the Cut means for cyclists, joggers and others who traverse the area.
"When that half mile extension opens up, it's going to bring you past Gratiot," Pasco says. "So you don't have to worry about trying to cross there and [can travel] right into the heart of Eastern Market and a lot closer to some other greenway loops that they're working on right now in Midtown and Hamtramck. The whole linkability [aspect of the project] is really exciting!"