City invites residents to meet consultant finalists for planning of Joe Louis Greenway project

  • New 31.5-mile recreational path will connect neighborhoods from the riverfront to 8 Mile
  • Community meetings to be held Saturday, January 19 at Palmer Park to present finalists
  • Framework study, community engagement process to occur in 2018, followed by design in 2019, construction starting 2020

The City of Detroit is moving forward with planning for the Joe Louis Greenway (JLG) and will host two community insight meetings on Saturday, January 19 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and again from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at Palmer Park, inviting residents to provide feedback and learn more about the project.

At the meeting, residents will also have a chance to meet the two finalists on the short list of consultants that will be chosen to complete the planning, view the Greenway's total footprint, discuss phases of construction, and share insights and opinions. The finalists, Spackman Mossop and Michaels, LLC and SmithGroup, Inc., will be in attendance to present their plans for the Greenway and answer questions from residents.

The 31.5-mile recreational pathway will connect neighborhoods across the city to Detroit’s waterfront and allow residents to travel safely from 8 Mile to the riverfront, all without a car. In 2017, Mayor Mike Duggan announced plans to name the pathway after legendary boxer and Detroiter, Joe Louis. The Greenway project will be a combination of new infrastructure and links to existing but disjointed trails, like the Dequindre Cut, the riverfront and the city’s protected bike lanes, providing a safe and efficient loop around the city.

The project will create a comprehensive recreational path that will connect neighborhoods previously separated by freeways and discontinuous transit via new and existing pedestrian and bike paths, creating a total of 31.5 miles of accessible and connected pathways. The path will touch the neighboring cities of Ferndale and Dearborn, run through Hamtramck and Highland Park and connect to trails that crisscross the entire state.

Finalist Selection Event

On Saturday, January 19 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and again from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM residents and community members are invited to attend the kick-off to plan the Joe Louis Greenway, which will take place at the Palmer Park Community Building, 1121 Merrill Plaisance St, Detroit, MI 48203. The event is free and open to the public.

Residents are encouraged attend, provide critical feedback on their thoughts about the two teams, and learn more about the JLG footprint and access, and non-motorized infrastructure. Light refreshments will be provided.

“With any project of this scope, we want to make sure that we provide residents the opportunity to participate in the planning process,” said Arthur Jemison, Chief of Infrastructure and services for the City.

Project Scope & Timeline

In early 2020 the City of Detroit will finalize the greenway plan which will include recommendations for land use and zoning, green infrastructure, connections to public assets such as parks, wayfinding, and thoughtful intersection with local and regional multi-modal transportation routes such as the Iron Belle Trail, DDOT and SMART bus networks, and the new Gordie Howe Bridge. One design firm will be chosen from the two finalists that will begin work on the Framework Plan and build phase. The winning firm is expected to be announced later in January 2019.

Community engagement will continue through construction of the project, keeping residents fully informed at each step of the process. Construction of the Joe Louis Greenway is expected to begin by 2020.

The plan will be comprised of the best pedestrian and bicycle design practices developed from extensive community engagement. Under the guidance of city’s General Services Department, the chosen firm will review existing conditions of the path, determine alignment and access points, develop a phasing and implementation plan, incorporate effective stormwater management techniques and create a signature greenway connected to local arts, culture and history.

The design process will begin thereafter, following the completion of the plan. This process will explore ways to honor Joe Louis and his legacy throughout the JLG, including possible murals and other art installations throughout the city.

Project Partners & Funding

The idea for the JLG has been more than 15 years in the making, with partners ranging from community leaders to nonprofits, such as the Detroit Greenways Coalition, and foundations, such as the Kresge Foundation and Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. In 2018, the City of Detroit reached an agreement to purchase the largest gap in the proposed 'Greenway' from Conrail, a 7.5 mile stretch of land that ran along the historic Detroit Terminal Railroad.

The city was also awarded a $2 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation that will be used to develop comprehensive design and construction plans for the unconstructed segments of the Joe Louis Greenway, as well as an overarching plan that incorporates the half-mile corridor to either side of the Greenway itself.


joe louis greenway