A new three-mile-long paved trail in the City of Flint is one step closer to completion, thanks to an upcoming property acquisition by the City of Flint announced Thursday.
Called the Grand Traverse Greenway, it will complete an 18-mile path connecting the Flint River and Genesee Valley trails.
And it is the final piece to complete Flint’s portion of the Iron Belle Trail, which will extend from Belle Isle in Detroit to Ironwood in the Upper Peninsula.
“Completion of this trail helps to celebrate the beauty of Flint. Walking and biking trails are building blocks for a happy, healthy community — plus this project will be a major asset for other ongoing economic development efforts,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a press release.
The $3 million project is being developed through the City of Flint Department of Planning and Development with funding from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Choice Neighborhoods and other fundraising efforts that are underway.
City Council approves the purchase of property for new trail
The city council approved the purchase of a piece of property in the southern half of the city limits known as the Grand Traverse Greenway Trail Project. According to the City’s Planning and Development Director, Suzanne Wilcox, this property is the last link in the Flint area connecting the Iron Belle Trail. The property for the new trail runs from the area of Pengelly and Hemphill roads to Kearsley and Grand Traverse streets.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website explains, “The Iron Belle Trail is Michigan’s showcase trail that touches hundreds of municipalities and crosses through 48 different Michigan counties. Using existing trails, networks and new connections, the trail extends more than 2,000 miles from the far western tip of the Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit, with a route of bicycling, and a route of hiking.”
Progress on the Grand Traverse Greenway is a significant achievement for this administration. The City of Flint received funding for this project in 2009, but had failed to make significant progress until now.
Construction is anticipated to begin in 2021 with completion estimated for 2023. More information about the trail can be found here on the City of Flint website.
There, on the banks of the Flint River, this new portion of trail will link with the existing Flint River and Genesee Valley trails and lead cyclists and walkers to a variety of community assets including Chevy Commons, downtown Flint, the Flint Cultural Center as well Genesee Valley Mall, Stepping Stones Falls, Bluebell Beach and more.
The trail also is a key component for ongoing neighborhood improvement, especially the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, a $30 million effort funded through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to create a new and better housing alternative for residents of Atherton East.
Critical Community Improvements set to revitalize neighborhoods along new trail
Included in that funding is $4.5 million for Critical Community Improvements, which is being used to leverage an additional $21 million in support from other City of Flint partners. This funding will allow for extensive neighborhood revitalization including commercial & residential demolition, commercial facade improvement, housing rehabilitation, vacant lot reuse, placemaking, park improvements as well as the construction of the Grand Traverse Greenway Trail.
Near the start of the trail, the City and Flint Housing Commission with Housing development partner Norstar will develop new, mixed-income housing around Windiate playground and along South Saginaw Street.
“This project has been 10-plus years in the making. We are ecstatic to have reached an agreement with CSX. The trail, once completed, will leverage more than $50 million of neighborhood improvements and development. This offers a non-motorized option for residents and visitors to explore our city and see all Flint has to offer,” said Suzanne Wilcox, director of the Department of Planning and Development at the City of Flint.
– EVM staff lightly edited and added content to an email from City of Flint Administration for this article.