DETROIT- It looks as if the mother of Detroit greenways will be getting some make-or-break funding from the State of Michigan.
Michigan's Natural Resource Trust Fund has recommended that the City of Detroit receive $3,431,300 to help acquire land for the Detroit Inner Circle Greenway, a route that would join together existing bike trails into a 26-mile super-greenway that will run through the city and parts of Dearborn, Hamtramck and Highland Park. Money from the fund comes out of royalties from mineral extraction on state lands.
The funds will complement an already awarded $1.4 million federal Transportation Alternatives Program grant and allow the city to purchase 6.3 miles of railroad property needed to make the trail a reality.
Todd Scott of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance told Mode Shift the recommendation is a good sign, but the project still needs to be approved by state politicians.
"It's great, because if you're not recommended, there's virtually no chance of getting funding," he said. "Historically speaking, nearly all the projects that are recommended get funded through the legislature and governor. I don't forsee any problems, but it's their call to make."
The city applied for the grant in April with assistance from The Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance. Scott, who was involved in writing the grant, expects funding to be formally authorized by spring of next year.
After the land acquisition is taken care of, those backing the project will need to get funding to actually develop the Inner Circle Greenway.
The trail will start off near I-75 and McNichols, running west for about half its length before turning south into Southwest Detroit and Dearborn and winding back.
"Think of this as an extension of the Dequindre Cut that wraps around the entire city," said Scott. "It's a major spine that will connect up some of the other existing and planned non-motorized facilities. It makes use of the Dequindre Cut and the Riverfront and the Southwest Detroit lanes, so I think it's huge!"
As if this isn't exciting enough news for bicyclists in the region, the city of Windsor, Canada is planning its own 26-mile greenway, the Windsor Loop.
What's more, the Detroit Port Authority is working with Canada to establish a ferry service that will allow people to carry their bikes across the Detroit River and bike travel is being considered for the new international bridge between the two cities.
If everything works out, bicyclists in the not-to-distant future may be able to enjoy an international figure-eight bike trip through both Detroit and Windsor.