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.
Riddled with graffiti and broken light fixtures, the tunnel at Port Huron's Blue Water River Walk
had clearly seen better days.
Fortunately, the city of Port Huron has taken notice of its plight and is in the process of renovating the tunnel with the goal of making the riverwalk more appealing to those who spend time in the area.
Situated just south of the mouth of the Black River, the River Walk is a roughly mile-long non-motorized path that runs alongside the St. Clair River facing Sarnia,Military Street Tunnel (James Freed)
Ontario. It's also part of the Bridge to Bay Trail, which stretches from the village of Lakeport on Lake Huron south to Algonac.
The riverwalk's tunnel, which lies under a section of Military Street, is currently being cleaned of graffiti and receiving a new coat of paint. Its renovation will alsoMilitary St. Tunnel include the installation of new lighting, landscaping, and cameras. Sheri Faust, president of the Friends of the St. Clair River
nonprofit, which tends to the riverwalk, is excited that the tunnel is finally getting a facelift.
"It's going from a place that you really didn't want to visit, especially alone or at night, to a really beautiful feature," she says. "The city wanted to add a lot of amenities and features, so that it would be welcoming and hopefully deter future graffiti at the site."
There are also plans underway to create a large mural at the site. Jody Parmann, a local artist and co-owner of the Raven Café in Port Huron, will be spearheading that effort. She hopes to use the opportunity to help other area artists learn the craft of mural-making while beautifying the space.
The cost of renovating the Military Street tunnel is estimated to run about $30,000. Blue Water River WalkThe city of Port Huron is covering $20,000 of that price tag. The remaining $10,000 is being paid for with a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
aimed at helping communities in the region renovate sections of the Bridge to Bay Trail.
In addition to its non-motorized pathway, the Blue Water River Walk also features Blue Water River Walk (Kirsten Lyons)
an observation dock, outdoor classroom, public art, fishing pier, and county wetlands park.
The area where the riverwalk now sits was donated to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County by philanthropists James and Suzanne Acheson in 2011. Its 4,300-foot shoreline was remediated two years later as part of a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant used to restore fish and wildlife habitats along the St. Clair River. Construction of the riverwalk wrapped up in 2014.
Maintenance of the river walk and adjacent shoreline is handled by Friends of the St. Clair River, who have an environmental services contract with the city to oversee environmental monitoring, public education, volunteer coordination, and land stewardship at the site.
Friends of the St. Clair River is looking for volunteers to help them with their work at the Blue Water River Walk and other projects. Visit the group's website to learn more.