River Rouge and Trenton take steps to create sustainable coastal communities

Walkability and bikeability assessments are helping coastal communities find ways to connect residents and visitors to community assets, neighborhoods and downtown businesses.

Michigan Sea Grant and our partners worked with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to bring international experts to the cities of River Rouge and Trenton to investigate ways that the communities can create vibrant, productive coastal communities.

On July 19, John LaPlante and Tim Gustafson visited River Rouge to lead 23 participants on a bike exploration of the city. Bicyclists visited schools, parks, community gardens and other assets to get a better understanding of how bike routes can help link residents and visitors with community assets. Experts discussed the economic benefits of bike friendly communities and gave suggestions for improving and promoting bike routes to help make the community more sustainable.

On August 16, Dan Burden, founder of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, visited Trenton to assess the walkability of two sections of the city. Mr. Burden began with a walking tour from of Jefferson Avenue and connecting neighborhoods from City Hall to Rotary Park and a portion of Elizabeth Park. In the afternoon, the group walked a portion of West Road between the Trenton Cultural Center and Fort Street. Over 30 people participated throughout the day. They learned which existing features were ideal for encouraging more foot traffic to downtown businesses as well as some areas that could benefit from alterations. A community presentation in the evening allowed participants to talk with Mr. Burden about current conditions and review options for making future improvements.

Recommendations from both workshops will be shared at a November 2012 gathering of the Downriver Summit to allow more communities to benefit from the expert advice. The Summit is being coordinated by the Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber.

Both workshops were sponsored by MDOT, who provided all funding for experts services. Partners who made these workshops possible were the City of River Rouge, City of Trenton, Downriver Delta CDC, Downriver Linked GreenwaysRiverside Kayak Connection, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Southern Wayne County Regional Chamber, and the Trenton Business Association.

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