First One-Mile Segment of Joe Louis Greenway Completed, Upcoming Second Mile Stretch 

Debris and dumping cleanup is the first preparation for the groundwork of the Joe Louis Greenway. Pictured is a before and after photo of an abandoned property at 12385 Cloverdale (adjacent to the greenway). 

Photo courtesy of City of Detroit.


The city of Hamtramck prepares for their section of the Joe Louis Greenway, the long-awaited non-motorized Metro-Detroit regional pathway connecting three other cities.  

In late October, Mayor Duggan, Congressional leaders, and other state and city officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the latest completion of the first one-mile stretch of the greenway from Joy Rd. to Warren Ave. 

“Today we celebrate the completion of the first leg of the Joe Louis Greenway, as we continue our mission to turn blight to beauty here in the City of Detroit,” said Mayor Mike Duggan in a press statement.  

“Thanks to the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation and our partners at the state and federal levels, we are seeing this vision become reality. Today marks the first of many celebrations to come as we continue this transformational work in our neighborhoods.” 

“We’re so excited this first mile of the Greenway has just been so embraced by the community,” said Dara O’Byrne, Chief of Parks Planner. “Part of the reason we started In this area of the Greenway, of the 27 miles, is based on the advocacy of the community. They wanted to see the transformation of this formerly blighted rail corridor. We removed over 13,000 tons of debris that was in people’s backyards and we’re cleaning the soil and laying out this beautiful trail.” 

With the 27.5-mile Joe Louis Greenway, citizens will be able to safely ride from McNichols to the riverfront without using a car thanks to a combination of new trails, on-street protected bike lanes, and connections to already-existing trails like the Dequindre Cut and the River Walk. 

The Dearborn, Hamtramck, and Highland Park cities are part of the greenway, which connects them to bigger trail networks that traverse the entire state and go through five council districts. 

When everything is done, more than 40,000 people will be able to walk from their houses to the greenway in less than 10 minutes. 

After a years-long, multi-phased planning process, the city of Detroit, in collaboration with community partners and resident-led working groups worked on an extensive Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan 

Five themes stood out to guide the vision of the greenway’s construction and utility: environmental sustainability, equitable growth historic and cultural significance, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and safety, health and fitness, and connectivity and accessibility. 

“One of the things you’ll see off the bat is that the bicycle and pedestrian pathways are separated and that was something we heard directly from the community,” said O’Byrne. 

“There are a lot of walking clubs and seniors in the community, and they want to feel safe and comfortable. Security was one of the priorities. Lighting was also very important, call boxes and cameras. We really did a lot of engagement to make sure that we had that balance, providing security but also not being so intrusive.” 

As groundwork continues to be laid, the greenway will see other community-informed concepts including more naturalized meadows and less-pristine landscape designs, and the alignment of on-street segments of path in certain areas.  

To complete the greenway planning process in collaboration with the City and the community, the SmithGroup team was chosen to take lead.  

For over 15 years, the architecture design firm’s flagship office in Detroit has worked on many local projects, including the Hamtramck Stadium, various university buildings, and non-motorized projects for Dequindre Cut and the Detroit River Walk. 

“Resident involvement is really the heart of the project,” said Brian Charlton, principal and landscape architect at SmithGroup. 

 “This project came out of what could benefit the city, particularly communities and neighborhoods that haven’t seen investment for decades. This project essentially extends into the neighborhoods, where otherwise we’ve seen similarly intensive projects that don’t, such as the Detroit River  Walk which is for all intents and purposes, a downtown project…There’s been a whole series of coordination and direct involvement to inform the concept, like high level features including the dual pass system for bikes and pedestrians.” 

What’s up next for Joe Louis Greenway? 

O’Byrne said the first priority is cleaning up an “unbelievable amount of debris from decades long dumping.” There will be ongoing clean up through this Fall and next Spring and preparations for the soil removal, remediating the site and replacing the soil. 

Hamtramck has begun taking lead on their portion of the greenway. 

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) awarded the City of Hamtramck a planning assistance grant for $40,000 to create the alley section of the greenway.  

“We are excited to make the Joe Louis Greenway real for Hamtramck and its residents,” said Brad Dick, group executive, Services & Infrastructure in a press statement. 

 “We want to thank the City of Hamtramck and the community organizations who are helping to move the greenway forward.” 

The Wayne County Commission recently approved $27M for segments outside Detroit, including Highland Park and Dearborn.  

Most of the Joe Louis Greenway investment comes from ARPA funding, which needs to be spent by 2026 and allocated to off-street segments. On-street construction is expected to begin in 2028. 

O’Byrne said residents can expect to see a new trails around this time next year. The full greenway is projected to take between 7-10 years to complete. 

To follow the progress of the Joe Louis Greenway project, check out 


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