'A walkable gateway': Roosevelt Park getting redesign to connect Michigan Central Station to neighborhoods

As Michigan Central Station undergoes renovations, a park in front of it is getting a makeover as well.

READ: Final phase of Michigan Central Station restoration underway

Right now, Roosevelt Park has streets that run through it. That will soon change.

"We’re going to be moving the streets here in the middle to open the park up and make it a more park-like setting, and also to allow for a better flow of traffic," Brad Dick said.

Dick is the director of Detroit’s General Services. He said this reunification project is personal to him because when he moved to the city in 1991, he lived in a home behind the train station.

"I drove through here every day thinking, ‘What a screwy mess this is.’ Who would’ve ever thought 30 years later I’ll be part of the team assigned that actually gets to make changes here for the positive?" Dick said. 

Vernor Highway and a small section of 15th Street bisect the park. Results from the Greater Corktown Neighborhood Planning Framework recommended a single, unified space that does not have the roads going through it.

Beginning Tuesday, the Vernor overpass will be closed for about six weeks while work is done.

"We are also going to be reconstructing, Rebuilding, and reimagining what the Vernor viaduct is going to look like in the future it will be a walkable gateway to Michigan Central and a connection between the neighborhoods," said James Courtney, the community engagement lead for Ford Motor Company Michigan Central Development. "Our goal is to unify Michigan Central Station buildings with the surrounding neighborhoods and make our mobility innovations and district an open and welcoming for everyone." 

The project will connect two neighborhoods.

"We have to strengthen the unification between the two areas -- we’re talking about Corktown and Mexicantown," said Myrna Segura, with the Southwest Detroit Business Association.

Ford released a plan last year that included more public amenities, green spaces, walking and biking trails, public art, and open areas. A key goal is to have amenities, including stores and a daycare, all within a 20-minute walk.

(Photo: Ford)

Infrastructure will also be improved.

"One of the things we're looking at is improved infrastructure -- the sidewalk, the traffic signal, some of the road work." said Dayo Akinyemi the deputy director of Detroit Public Works.

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