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If you’ve seen the Dequindre Cut, and how much of an improvement that is for biking, running and walking — imagine if it were 26 miles long.

Plans for a massive, 26-mile greenway that winds through the cities of Detroit, Highland Park and Dearborn took a major step forward today, with the City of Detroit and Conrail coming to an agreement in principle to purchase 7.5 miles of railroad property.

The Inner Circle Greenway plans to make use of existing paths like the Detroit RiverWalk and Dequindre Cut, upgrade existing bike lanes like those on the Southwest Detroit Greenlink and build new on and off-road infrastructure to complete the 26-mile loop. There will be bike lanes, pedestrian paths, seating, lighting, public safety elements and other amenities.

According to information from the city, the city of Detroit (upon council and Conrail board approval) plans to acquire 76 acres of land from Conrail for $4.3 million to build a new off-road greenway through Detroit.

The city will then be reimbursed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation.

If all goes as planned, detailed design and construction preparation will begin this fall.

”The Inner Circle Greenway is going to connect Detroiters from every corner of the city to some of our greatest resources,” said Mayor Mike Duggan. “Residents will have a safe and reliable nonmotorized path of greenways and bike lanes connecting them to the river front, eastern market, parks across the city and more.”

The 7.5 mile stretch runs along the historic Detroit Terminal Railroad that supplied parts to assemble Ford Model T automobiles.

“Conrail has been part of the Detroit community for decades, and we’re so happy that this deal will help to further improve the community for generations to come,” said Conrail Vice President and Chief Counsel, Jonathan Broder. “As a small contribution to this effort, we’ll be putting $500,000 from the sale into an escrow account to contribute toward remediation work along the route.”

The design of the greenway will connect residents to small businesses and commercial corridors previously too difficult to access by foot and will also connect residents to public open spaces like Palmer Park, Clark Park, Lasky Park and the riverfront.

Many Detroit neighborhoods are touched by the Inner Circle Greenway plans, including Russell Woods, Fitzgerald, and Banglatown. The idea is that people in these neighborhoods will be able to use the Inner Circle Greenway to travel safely all the way from 8 Mile to the riverfront.

GO DEEPER: If you’re looking for more of a deep dive on the state of biking and greenways in Detroit, check out our Happy Hour podcast interview with Todd Scott, executive director of the Detroit Greenways Coalition.