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Wilson foundation provides $1.9 million in grants to connect trails in Detroit and Downriver

Funding includes $550,000 for the creation of a park at the Fort Street Bridge

Jacek Chabraszewski via Shutterstock

The longest trail in Michigan just got funding to fill in gaps in Detroit and Downriver.

The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, which funds numerous programs and projects that contribute to positive health outcomes in the state, provided $1.9 million in grants to the Friends of the Detroit River and other partners to build out parts of the Iron Belle Trail.

The projects will contribute to 3.5 miles of trail gaps and build connections between Detroit and Downriver. The Iron Belle Trail is a 2000-mile series of greenways and non-motorized trails extending from Southeast Michigan to the western edge of the Upper Peninsula. There are still gaps in the trail which are slowly being filled in through initiatives like this.

Other nonprofits and government agencies working on this project include the Downriver Linked Greenways, Wayne County, MotorCities National Heritage Area, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The groups identified seven areas for improvements, with an overall goal to strengthen connections between the Downriver Linked Greenways and the Hines Park Greenway to Detroit Greenways. Some of those tasks include trail planning, design, and engineering; improving safety at 17 intersections along the trail; and developing a framework plan for Hines Park that will create a more integrated bicycle network.

According to Crain’s Detroit Business, about $550,000 of the funds will go towards the creation of the Fort Street Bridge Interpretive Park, which will have a gathering plaza and rain garden. The park will commemorate the 1932 Ford Hunger March, a demonstration by unemployed Ford workers which resulted in five being shot and killed by Dearborn police and Ford Motor Company security guards.

Construction on the park will begin this summer.