Posts Tagged ‘Dequindre Cut’

Detroit RiverWalk community meeting, groundbreaking & love letters

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Perhaps you’ve seen Mt. Elliott Park fenced off for construction or watched the heavy equipment remediating the soil at the Uniroyal site. There’s much work being done on the Detroit RiverWalk right now.

To update the community, the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is hosting a meeting form 6pm to 8pm on Wednesday, October 17th at the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources. The building is on the Detroit RiverWalk at 200 Walker Street.

It’s a free event, but you need to RSVP by October 12th by emailing info@detroitriverfront.org or calling (313) 566-8248.

Globe building groundbreaking

The city of Detroit, DEGC, and DNR and hosting a groundbreaking event for the new Outdoor Adventure and Discover Center at the Globe Trading building. This event is on Saturday, October 6th at 10:30am. The Globe Trading building is at 1900 Atwater Street or more commonly recognized as the large brick structure at the intersection of the Dequindre Cut and Atwater.

What’s this building becoming? According to the DNR, “With hands-on experiences in everything from archery to ziplining, the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center will become a base camp for residents and visitors seeking a destination for fun and fitness.” We’re in!

There will be a bike on the Dequindre Cut and a complimentary lunch after the groundbreaking. RSVP by emailing munsond@michigan.gov or by calling (517) 241-0341.

DNR seeking love letters

The DNR will be burying a time capsule at the groundbreaking and they are seeking submissions.

The DNR is looking for stories, sentiment, and visions for the future that can be included in a time capsule that will be buried on the grounds of the Outdoor Adventure & Discovery Center. Submit your Love Letter by October 1 and become part of Detroit’s legacy. Detroit Riverfront Love Letters can be sent via email to Erik Thornbury at ThornburyE@michigan.gov.

You have until Monday to submit your best work!

Detroit River trails and ferries in the news

Monday, July 9th, 2012

It’s becoming increasingly challenging to highlight all the trail and bike media coverage for the city of Detroit.

We’re even seeing great photos like this one of regular people riding the “Dequinder” Cut in a Detroit News article about the weather.

Below are some updates primarily about the RiverWalk, ferry service, and TIGER grant.

Detroit RiverWalk‘s 10th anniversary

The Free Press ran stories about the RiverWalk that were run during the RiverDays event. It’s great that Harriet Saperstein is part of the article as she’s been one of the longtime proponents of developing riverfront trails as well as other bicycling facilities throughout Detroit.

…Saperstein, who still visits the waterfront and Belle Isle on a regular basis from her Lafayette Park home, said the vision developed for the riverfront in the 1970s continues to motivate fans of the waterfront today.

“You stay patient and persistent, and you come at it again and again and again,” she said earlier this month.

The idea for Detroit riverfront trails is more than 10 years old. It pre-dates Saperstein and goes all the way back 113 years to Mayor Hazen Pingree.

The Free Press also created this video that interviews RiverWalk users.

Craig Fahle Show

Last Friday’s Craig Fahle Show included a more general discussion of trails and biking in Detroit, including changing perceptions of greenways, connecting greenways, the $10 million TIGER grant, public bike sharing, and more. A podcast of the show is available on-line.

Detroit & Windsor Ferry Service

This CBS Detroit article gives an optimistic update on ferry service between Detroit and Windsor, which may start as soon as next spring. As we’ve been saying for a few years now, this would be an ideal means for bicyclists to get across the Detroit River.

Detroit Port Authority Chairman Louis James told CBS Detroit this news.

“We’ve already been funded for the ferry, we have companies that are coming to us that own ferries who would like to contract with us, so I don’t really see any real cost at this time. We hope to have, as I said, private contractors to come in and operate them,” he said.

James said he views the ferry as being a People Mover on the water. He said there could be one big ferry or several smaller ferries along the river, transporting roughly 200 passengers at a time.

?This morning we had another inquiry from bicycle tourists looking to cross the river. We’re hoping to have a good answer for them soon.

We got a TIGER for the trail!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

After getting rejected for funding in the TIGER III, the city of Detroit and collaborators tweaked the grant proposal and re-submitted for TIGER IV.

We didn’t get the $15.3 million we asked for, but we did get $10 million.

What does this fund? The proposal centers around Eastern Market by improving streetscapes and bridges, while making three non-motorized connections via a Dequindre Cut extension, another segment of the Midtown Loop, and bike lanes to the proposed Hamtramck Trails network.

There’s more coverage on the MTGA web site and in articles by Crain’s Detroit Business and mLIVE.

Globe Trading Building

While these greenway connections improve access to Eastern Market, they also improve access for bicyclists and pedestrians heading to the Detroit RiverWalk and Milliken State Park. As for the latter, last month the DNR announced their $12.8 million investment in an Outdoor Discovery Adventure Center in the park and along the Dequindre Cut.

This Free Press article makes it sound like quite the trail-side attraction.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources said this morning it anticipates as many as a million visitors a year coming to its planned discovery center to be built in the historic Globe Building on Detroit?s east riverfront.

Features will include a 60-foot climbing wall, an archery range, simulator rides demonstrating kayaking and other water sports, and classrooms to teach schoolchildren and other visitors outdoor safety as well as the science of natural resources and wetlands.

And yes, a young Henry Ford was an apprentice in this building while working on ship engines.

Given the current state of the Globe Trading Building, it’s difficult imagining that it will be open next year, but that is the timeline.

The DNR also expects a million visitors a year.

City of Detroit submits TIGER IV grant

Monday, March 19th, 2012

We mentioned Detroit submitted a TIGER III transportation grant that would have extended the Dequindre Cut and Midtown Loop. built bike lanes from Eastern Market to the planned Hamtramck Trail, and made major street improvements at Eastern Market.

That grant wasn’t funded though the city was told by one congressional office that it scored near the top.

The City is submitting an improved version of the grant request this round.

Competition?

One interesting wrinkle this time is it appears the M1 Rail group is applying for a $25 million TIGER IV grant as well. Even though it would be from the transit portion of TIGER IV, it’s unlikely two big grants would come to Detroit.

From the Detroit News:

[U.S. DOT Secretary Ray] LaHood said in January the government will consider awarding Detroit’s light-rail project up to $25 million on top of $25 million awarded for a bus rapid transit system.

LaHood told The Detroit News he is willing to offer additional government money if the M-1 light rail coalition can show it is financially viable.

Congressional aides said the M-1 plan assumes it will win the $25 million grant, which the FTA says is not certain.

The Detroit News is reporting the the U.S. DOT has “serious concerns” about the M1 Rail’s viability. The Detroit Free Press reports a more moderate response.

…while no decision has been made, there is skepticism in Washington, including concerns that the M-1 plan’s cost estimate — at $125 million — is too low and that the group of private investors won’t pull together enough private financing to qualify for a $25-million federal grant for the project.

Of course the other issue with M1 Rail and bicycling is their plan to run the street cars along the curbs. As we’ve said before, curbside alignments are problematic for cyclists and Complete Streets advocates.

Seattle cyclists sue

The street car tracks are a major safety issue and liability. At least a half-dozen Seattle cyclists have lawsuits against the city for crashes due to street car rails. We spoke with an attorney handling these cases and they said this would be a class action lawsuit if their office had the capacity to organize such an effort.

Does MDOT really want to open themselves up to that?

MDOT should know it’s a hazardous design for bicyclists — it’s mentioned as such in Detroit’s Woodward light rail reports.

There are safety concerns for bicycle users with [the curbside designs] due to the potential for bicycle tires to be caught within the rail flange space in the road. While alternative rail types may reduce this potential conflict, it cannot be fully mitigated.

Of course the odds are that neither project will receive the funding. It’s a hyper-competitive grant source.

Then again, Michigan’s only successful TIGER III grant was a road to a landfill, so anything is possible.

Feds fail to fund Detroit’s inspired TIGER project

Friday, December 16th, 2011

[Disclaimer: I provided assistance to the city of Detroit on this TIGER grant application.]

It wasn’t a good week in Detroit for transportation news.

First came the light rail decision, and now this. The U.S. DOT did not select Detroit’s TIGER III grant.

There were 828 application and only 46 were selected. The odds weren’t good but Detroit’s $20 million grant request was first-class.

It was called Link Detroit, a Multi-model enhancement plan and a copy of it is available on the city’s web site.

The listed project benefits were:

  • Implements a $25 million infrastructure project that includes bridge replacements, streetscapes, on and off road non-motorized greenways ($20 million DOT grant, $5.8 million local match)
  • Links Detroit’s core investments such as the Riverfront Conservancy and adjacent downtown central businesses through the Dequindre Cut and Midtown Loop greenways to the Eastern Market, Midtown and Hamtramck
  • Intersects major transportation routes including auto, bus, and the planned Woodward Light Rail, enabling multi modal options from anywhere in the region
  • Enhances non-motorized and multi-modal connections to:
    • Jobs (downtown and midtown anchors, locally owned commercial/professional services, start up establishments, hotels and restaurants, eastern market district)
    • Educational institutions (Wayne State)
    • Cultural institutions (DIA, MOCAD, DSO, theatres)
    • Recreational opportunities (Milliken State Park, numerous city parks, marinas)
    • Famers market (Eastern Market)
    • Neighborhoods (Midtown, Hamtramck, East Villages)
  • Leverages significant investments already made in the transportation infrastructure (Campus Martius, Detroit RiverWalk, Woodward Light Rail, Dequindre Cut Greenway, Midtown Loop Greenway, Hamtramck Greenway) and real estate development (Downtown, Midtown, Eastern Market)
  • Provides 289 direct near term jobs, and up to 16,000 long term jobs, assuming the residential and commercial fill in development typically stimulated by this kind of investment

Can Detroit just reapply for TIGER IV? That’s uncertain.

Congress has asked that TIGER “focus on road, transit, rail and port projects.” One source says it’s not a ban on bike-ped oriented projects, but that future focus doesn’t help Link Detroit.

In addition, some of the matching funds will likely be spent before the next TIGER round, and therefore will become ineligible.

Detroit had received $25 million in the first round of TIGER grants. That money was to be spent on the Woodward light rail and will now be applied towards planning bus rapid transit. We don’t know what role this previous award and the city’s current financial situation had in this grant request cycle.

No Dequindre Cut Extension?

This does not stop the planned Dequindre Cut extension. The city has a purchase agreement for the private property from Gratiot to Mack and is now doing due diligence. The funding is there to keep moving this project forward.

Eventually the Midtown and Hamtramck connections will be built once the needed funding is found. TIGER III would have put these critical projects on the front burner.

Other Michigan TIGER grants

The only successful TIGER III grant was for $3.6 million to rebuild 2.6 miles of road in St. Clair County which “provides essential access to the County’s only landfill facility.” Yeah, that stinks.

That said, we’re not surprised the MDOT/Canton TIGER request was rejected. This was a $22 million project to improve the IKEA exit on I-275.

The required grant section on Livability appears to have been written in the 1980s or earlier. One claimed project benefit is it will improve the quality of life by having “a safer operational and connected network to and from the surrounding community and the freeway network.” That and they won’t remove the existing bike path.

The grant’s section on Alternative Transportation and Sustainable Development says, Canton is “committed to promoting sustainable development opportunities and alternative transportation options for residents.” Canton opted out of SMART. You cannot take the SMART bus to the IKEA store.

If anything, this is an example of why transportation in Michigan is not a sustainable model. We let a major traffic generator locate in an area which lacks the existing transportation infrastructure to handle it. And now Canton (and MDOT) want taxpayers to fix their $22 million mistake.

IKEA even mentioned in their support letter for this grant that “when IKEA was considering potential locations for our Michigan store, we had strong concerns about the interchange.”

But to be fair, there are other costly expressway exit examples, from the Chrysler headquarters to the Great Lakes Crossing at Baldwin. We have a history of funding mistakes.

The bottom line is Michigan can’t afford to keep ignoring the obvious relationship between land use and transportation.