What’s going on at Eastern Market?
By Dan Carmody
Special to the Michigan Citizen
If you have been down to Eastern Market lately you may have noticed a number of road and bridge construction projects. They are part of a project called Link Detroit that is comprised of four major elements:
- Extension and connections of greenways
Phase 2 of the Dequindre Cut and Phase 4 of the Midtown Loop will soon be completed. When they are connected at the northeast corner of Wilkins and Orleans you will be able to walk, run, or ride a bike from downtown, along the riverfront, through the Dequindre Cut, to Eastern Market, Brush Park, the Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State University.
- Bike trail network
The greenways will be connected via a dedicated bike route on city streets from where the Dequindre Cut trail system ends at Mack Avenue to the Hamtramck trail. The two will meet near the GM Pole Town Plant, which will enable further connection to the Inner Loop trail that will be constructed on abandoned rail right-of-way in the coming years. Soon Detroit will have a fantastic bike path system that will connect all parts of the city.
Bike culture is growing at a furious pace in the Motor City and the rewards are enormous. Cities like Portland and Vancouver in which bikes are a large element of everyday travel are seeing increases of billions of dollars in household disposable income as people reduce their automobile dependency. Simultaneously, increased physical activity helps improve the city’s health.
- Bridge replacement
The Dequindre Cut was originally built in the 1920s and the bridges that span the former rail spur are severely deteriorated. Bridges the cross the cut at Adelaide, Division, and Wilkins be removed and replaced. These bridges improve the linkage between Eastern Market and near eastside neighborhoods and are important to the movement of goods within the Eastern Market district as economic activity increases.
- Better sidewalks and pedestrian movement
Eastern Market has always been a place in which a symphony of cars, trucks and pedestrians compete for available space. Sidewalks will be improved and realigned to make pedestrian movement safer and more enjoyable without reducing parking and traffic capacity. Both sides of Russell Street between the Fisher Freeway Service Drive and Wilkins, the two blocks of Market Street, and the large parking lot at the south end of the market will be improved as part of the project.
In addition to these four components, utility infrastructure including water, sewer, gas and electric lines will be improved as part of the project.
Altogether, the projects represent an investment of $24 million highlighted by a $15 million dollar TIGER grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Most of the remaining funds came from a variety of state and federal sources.
We at Eastern Market would like to thank all of our customers who have endured many construction-related disruptions over the past few months. As the flower season winds down, many of our flower vendors have reported sales increases from the year earlier providing further evidence of Detroit’s resiliency.
Project construction turmoil has peaked, and you will begin to see completed project elements in the next few weeks. The entire project is scheduled for completion in early 2015.
Dan Carmody is president of the Eastern Market Corporation. He is also a member of the Detroit Food Policy Council. He can be reached at 313.833.9300.