Connecting Communities: Detroit’s Urban Trail Network

In the early 2000s Detroit began to build out a trail network with the River Walk and Dequindre Cut. These projects converted previously industrial land and abandoned rail right-of-way to a new amenity for the City, providing proof of concept that well-designed trails could reclaim under-utilized and abandoned spaces and convert them into thriving amenities that strengthened the communities they intersected and the City as a whole. These first successes launched a greater vision for an expanded network of trails connecting five cities, two counties, and many more Detroit neighborhoods together. SmithGroup and the Detroit Greenways Coalition, both of which were involved with these first trails and on through to current efforts, will discuss the combination of on- and off-street trails that are being planned and implemented in Detroit and how issues of equity, development and environmental justice are being addressed in the process.