The Allen Creek Greenway came one step closer to becoming a reality this week as city officials from both the Ann Arbor City Council and Planning Commission were presented a draft plan by the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy (ACGC) outlining the desired route of the 2.75 mill path.
The Greenway will span from North Main to State Street at the corner of Stinson, providing a destination urban trail that will have a broad appeal to people from a range of demographics, from the young and fully abled to seniors with some physical challenges.
The goal is to create a safe, continual pathway with access throughout its entirety, which people can use to exercise, enjoy the fresh air, or use for a scenic pedestrian commute option within the city.
The Greenway comes short of being technically a park, but it will be more than a typical trail, according to the Conservancy’s presentation.
The outlined vision includes engineered landscaping, lush green areas, ample benches, artwork displays and more features that will enculturate Greenway-goers to the values of Ann Arborites who place a high importance on the vibrance and usability of their local environment.
The trail will also be a connector for various community destinations featuring paved pathways with separate bike and walk lanes, pedestrian scale lighting, security features, extended green areas, and furnishings aside from benches. The Greenway will have its own stormwater management system for the trail area to handle runoff water ensuring the those who use this path never have to trundle through water.
The Greenway is estimated to cost somewhere between $53 million and $57 million, or around $3,800 per linear foot. According to the project management team, these numbers are in line with similar projects elsewhere in the country that were used as a basis for the preliminary data contained in the plan; projects such as the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, the 606 Bloomingdale Trail in Chicago, and High Line Park in New York City.
This cost includes all characteristics listed above, as well as bridges and elevated ramps where necessary, ornamental security fencing, design and engineering, permitting, survey, construction contingencies, project management and construction administration.
The current cost projection does not include property acquisition, on-going maintenance, additional trail opportunities not presented in the draft plan, major utility modifications, environmental remediation or flood mitigation.
The Conservancy and planners for the Greenway thanked members of the Citizen Advisory Council, who gathered information from the public for incorporation into the vision for the project, which is where many of the aforementioned trail features came from leading to the draft plan’s creation.
One public request was to keep the trail entirely within the railroad corridor, but due to width restrictions the Greenway will partially exist outside of that boundary.
The Conservancy will create and present a proposal to officials from Ann Arbor Railroad and Watco Company later this summer, addressing the interplay between the trail and railroad rights-of-way. There are concerns both internal and out in the community regarding trail safety within the railroad corridor.
The Conservancy detailed that it would continue pursuing funding sources after this week’s presentation, as well. The project management team will begin researching and pursuing grants and approaching potential sponsors.
Different “zones” of the Greenway will be profiled for appeal to specific classes of funders, which will be used for targeting in making proposals to potential zone sponsors, which will collectively fund the trail where grants money falls short.
Although a “dedicated funding” source will be needed to maintain the trail, Conservancy officials said.
The project approval process starts this Fall and the team will meet with the Planning Commission by the end of the year and the City Council shortly after that.
At this point, the potential Greenway governing body will consist of a board comprised of both City Council and Conservancy members. The city will have a role in major decisions and the annual operating budget, and as a managing partner, while the Conservancy will handle day-to-day operations.
Overall, both the City Council and Planning Commission expressed excitement for the project and gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the ACGC.
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