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Greenway Trail Extension A Matter of Safety, City Says

The Recreation Department is looking to apply for a grant that would add to the trail that runs from Hines Drive into west Dearborn.

A Dearborn Recreation Department meeting held Tuesday night at the focused on the city's plans to apply for a grant that would extend the Rouge River Greenway Trail.

Currently, the trail runs from Hines Drive to the trailhead at the back of Andiamos restaurant, jutting through and the . The extension, if it goes fowrard, would continue the trail behind Andiamos and the , eventually leading to Brady Street at the intersection of Morley Street.

The idea is that it would lead bicyclists and pedestrians onto the sidewalk and bike lane that head into .

The Transportation Enhancement Grant, available through the Michigan Department of Transportation, would be a matching grant–with the city offering to pay 30 percent of the total cost. The Recreation Department estimates that the project will cost around $500,000-600,000, meaning that the city would pay roughly $150,000-180,000.

Recreation Department Director Greg Orner said that his department was pursuing the project mainly out of safety concerns. Currently, pedestrians or bicyclists are forced onto the Michigan Avenue sidewalk at the end of the trail–something Orner said is a disaster waiting to happen.

"We’ve had some near accidents at that location because of heavy traffic," he said. "We believe it will be a much safer access if we can build a trail system that goes behind Andiamos and behind the Historical Museum.”

Deputy Recreation Director Eric Peterson added that it's especially concerning, given a number of events that require people to walk along that area, such as local races and fundraising walks.

"Thousands of our students and residents participate in events and it’s dangerous going along that sidewalk on Michigan Avenue," he said.

The project proposal includes a raised boardwalk-like area that would take bicyclists and pedestrians through the woods, turning into a paved walkway as it neared Brady. It would be approximately a quarter-mile long.

Resident concerns raised at the meeting ranged from environmental issues to costs to a belief of residents in the West Lane neighborhood just off of Brady that the trail is bringing unwanted visitors into their backyards.

Peterson said that the department would “most likely have to send in our plans to be looked at” in terms of the environmental impact the trail would make to indigenous plants and animals in the wooded area near the Rouge, but that the city avoided waterway issues by creating a pathway plan that does not cross the river.

Livonia resident Bill Craig, who said he does volunteer work with , cautioned the city that there may be unforeseen costs, such as flood plain permits and upkeep of the bridge–especially if it is damaged by frequent Rouge flooding.

“The devil’s in the details, and a $600,000 project is going to cost you more than that,” Craig said, adding that long-term maintenance “is going to be a concern for this city.”

The department admitted in documents handed out to attendees of the hearing that the project is rather expensive, but that "it is the most cost effective and environmentally sensitive way to connect the existing trail to Ford Field Park."

Though the grant has not yet been submitted, Orner said talks with MDOT representative Vince Ranger have led him to believe it has a good chance of being approved. A similar grant request made in 2008 to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund was denied.

"(Ranger) believes this project is worthy of funding because of the unique location plus other projects that will happen in this area," Orner said, referring to and projects under way nearby.

If approved, Peterson said that the absolutely earliest the project would be completed is the spring of 2013.

Silvio Davis December 14, 2011 at 01:55 PM
We have 150,000-180,000 "estimated" (which means it will cost more based on our cities track record with "projects") dollars to spend on this project but we are closing libraries and pools? Interesting...
marooned in Dbn December 14, 2011 at 05:21 PM
What about "cost overruns", lets not forget those. We have raised property taxes to a dangerous, artificial level in this city, in an era of ppl makeing 8/10 dollars per hr. on average, in the "new" economy. I estimate this projects cost to average about 1.5 M after everything is taken into consideration. And as I stated in another column, in this website, this project will ONLY benefit a few people. NOMATTER that the funding will come from a state of MI grant. This is STILL the same principle when we have a state that is BROKE. This "state", I will remind you has BORROWED, from the Federal Govt. at least 1.5B (or more) dollars, just to operate it's un-employment compensation payments system. This cash has to be PAID BACK to the Federal Govt.....HOW ? Oh, I know...lets tax retirees pensions for the FIRST time in state history. Right Snyder ?
Frank Lee December 14, 2011 at 05:30 PM
This mayor is closing pools and libraries but he wants to spend $200,000 grand on this? How can Orner and O'Reilly even look in the mirror. Want to make Michigan Ave safe have the police patrol it, and ticket Andiamo employees and customers who park in the gateway trails spots. On one hand the mayor tells our kids sorry were broke, gotta close your pools and on the other he's spending hundreds of thousands on vanity projects
CantonTaxpayer December 15, 2011 at 04:27 PM
The City has no concern for the tremendous environmental damage that will be needed to accommodate this wasteful project. The great natural area left by Henry Ford continues to be chipped away at every turn. Look at all of the destruction that the City has already done in the Rouge floodplain--all supposedly done because they "care" about the river. Heck, the only thing they care about is spending more money. This "safety" issue is truly bogus. Bikers have used the short stretch of sidewallk to Brady Street for years with no incidents. Stop wasting taxpayer dollars and use some common sense!
Dominic Raona June 04, 2012 at 03:59 PM
We have the extra money to spend! Don't forget we saved money in the budget by not going forward with the SPLASH park and the convention center - Lets spend, Spend, SPEND!!!

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