This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.
Pedestrians and bicyclists in the Ypsilanti area will soon have a much easier time getting across I-94 thanks to a pair of trail-related projects that are now in the works. One of these endeavors involves modifying a freeway interchange at Grove Road, while the other aims at improving an existing crossing over the expressway at Huron Street.
Bonnie Wessler, a project manager with the city of Ypsilanti's Department of Public Services, believes both projects are important from a safety standpoint, as both areas already see frequent use by pedestrians and other non-motorized travelers.
"These are projects that are small in terms of distance, but they're really really impactful as far as their scope, because there's no way you can just casually walk over I-94," she says. "You have to take a bridge."
Long advocated by state Rep. Ronnie Peterson, the Grove Road project is a collaboration between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation (WCPR), and the city of Ypsilanti. Construction on the improvement, which has already begun, is intended to ease travel for non-motorists on a section of Grove over I-94, a little south of Depot Town. The work there involves removing a sidewalk on an existing bridge and widening it to an eight- to 10-foot path. Ramps have also been added at the beginning and end of the bridge to make the journey more accessible for people who might be using wheelchairs or similar devices.
In addition to making the area more accessible for non-motorists, the Grove Road project will also serve as an important connection on the Border-to-Border Trail
, a 35-mile trail that will ultimately span Washtenaw County to the borders of Wayne and Livingston counties. Construction on the Grove Road overpass is expected to wrap up very soon. Fencing will be added to the site next spring.
Work on the expressway at Huron Street has not yet started. That project is being spearheaded by the city of Ypsilanti with support from MDOT, WCPR, and Ypsilanti Township. It will involve reconfiguring an existing crossing at the border of the city and the township to make it more accessible. To that end, the outside southbound lane of the overpass there will be converted into a non-motorized path.
Construction there is expected to take place next year as part of a larger road diet that will also be taking place on Hamilton Street and Washtenaw Avenue. Bicycle lanes will also be established on all three roadways, which will link up with existing bike lanes on West Cross Street and offer access to the Border-to-Border trail via Riverside Park.