A stretch of the Joe Louis Greenway opens along former railway on Detroit’s west side

The greenway is a 27.5 mile walking and biking path that will pass through four cities when complete.

Walkers on the Joe Louis greenway

Winifred Stroud (right) and two of her cousins try out the trail.

The City of Detroit opened a segment of the Joe Louis Greenway, a trail that will run through Detroit, Hamtramck, Highland Park and Dearborn for 27.5 miles when complete.

The new portion is located on Detroit’s west side, running from Warren Avenue near McDonald Street where Detroit meets Dearborn, up to Joy Road between Greenlawn Street and Alpine Street. The southern portion includes a park that’s being built. The City of Detroit has an interactive map that gives users a better view of the project’s scope.

Construction of playground
A playground (right) is being constructed near a new section of the Joe Louis Greenway.

“It’s exciting to see this sort of thing coming to fruition,” says Detroiter Gary Bateman.

The trail itself is made up of two concrete pathways and will eventually include gravel paths for runners. Trash cans, lighting and red emergency posts have been installed. As of Tuesday, the area was mostly surrounded by dirt with a few trees planted and a couple sections of grass. Some portions of the segment were still closed as landscaping and construction are ongoing.

Joe Louis Greenway Project Lead Christina Peltier says the city sought design feedback from residents.

“It was important to residents that there’d be a large open lawn so they could gather for family reunions, a pavilion where the community could gather, where local vendors and food trucks could pull up,” says Peltier.

“A new playground and fitness equipment were really important to this community, having an equipment station where folks could work out.”

While putting together the Joe Louis Greenway Framework, essentially the plan for the trail, Peltier says the city led 14 meetings and then attended 44 additional events trying to get input from people on the overall project. The framework received the 2022 Advancing Diversity and Social Change in Honor of Paul Davidoff Award in October from the American Planning Association.

The new stretch follows what was once railroad tracks, a segment of the former Conrail line. It cuts through an industrial area and abuts the backyards of Detroit’s Barton McFarland neighborhood.

“I’m so glad that people are thinking about the neighborhoods,” says Winifred Stroud, a resident who’s lived nearby since 1963. She was out Tuesday walking the trail with two of her cousins.

Walkers on the Joe Louis greenway
Winifred Stroud (right) and two of her cousins try out the trail.

Stroud says she can’t wait to take her 6-year-old grandson on the trail. She usually walks with him along main streets like Tireman, Wyoming and Joy Road.

“But now it’s gonna be a little safer because we don’t have the dogs, we don’t have the traffic, and he could just run,” says Stroud.

“It’s exciting to see this sort of thing coming to fruition,” says Gary Bateman. He biked over from the Marygrove neighborhood, about four miles away.

“Normally, I don’t come to this specific area too much, it’s a little bit off my beaten path, but I just came over here to check this out,” Bateman says.

Bicyclist on Joe Louis Greenway
Detroiter Gary Bateman rides on the Joe Louis Greenway

Peltier says the next sections of the Greenway that are scheduled to be developed run from Joy Rd to West Chicago, and Grand River to Fullerton Avenue. The city’s goal is for the trail to be within a 10-minute walk for all residents. When finished it will connect with the Dequindre Cut and the Detroit Riverwalk, forming a loop.

Peltier estimates the whole project will be completed within the next seven years.

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  • Laura Herberg
    Laura Herberg is a Reporter for 101.9 WDET, telling the stories about people inhabiting the Detroit region and the issues that affect us here.