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Feds, state kick in $44M to finish Detroit riverfront project

Efforts to complete a recreational development project along Detroit's east riverfront are getting a $44 million boost from the federal government and the state, reports the Associated Press.

The east riverfront spans 3.5 miles from Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park.

Today, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy announced new partnerships and a series of construction projects, targeted at that area. Plans include the redevelopment of Mount Elliott Park with the construction of a plaza and pavilion, improvements at Gabriel Richard Park and expanding the reach of the Detroit RiverWalk.

The AP reports that the project is getting $29 million in federal highway money and a $15 million investment by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The centerpiece of development efforts on the east riverfront has been the RiverWalk promenade, which features a fountain and access to restaurants. The entire RiverWalk already features a carousel, a cafe, a bicycle rental shop, a butterfly garden, and fishing outlooks.

Marc Pasco, a spokesman with the conservancy says the project will help transform the riverfront.

"The Detroit and suburban community has really embraced the RiverWalk and today's announcement is going to be well received and draw more people to enjoy the RiverWalk.  For years, the riverfront just sat there, but now it's nice to give it back to the community," he said.

When finished, the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy says that the RiverWalk will extend 5.5 miles, connecting the east RiverWalk though the Ambassador Bridge area.

Pasco says the Mount Elliott Park portion is set to be completed by next summer. He says the other projects in progress do not have an official completion date yet.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom