Cleanup of Former Uniroyal Site Will Extend Detroit Riverwalk

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the EPA have started work on a $2.9 million project that will clean up a portion of contaminated sediment along the Detroit River and set the stage for the completion of the Riverwalk along the East Riverfront by linking two popular waterfront parks.
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Detroit Riverwalk
Work has begun on a $2.9 million project that will clean up a portion of contaminated sediment along the East Riverfront. // Photo courtesy of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and the EPA have started work on a $2.9 million project that will clean up a portion of contaminated sediment along the Detroit River and set the stage for the completion of the Riverwalk along the East Riverfront by linking two popular waterfront parks.

The project remediates approximately one acre of contaminated sediment located along the shoreline of the Detroit River downstream (west) of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle — the so-called Uniroyal site located at the southwest corner of E. Jefferson and East Grand Blvd.

Prior to the Uniroyal tire factory, the site was occupied by Michigan Stove Co. following its merger with Detroit Stove Works. According to “Detroit: Engine of America,” the owners of the stove company re-assembled a massive Garland stove on the property to tout Detroit’s standing as the stove capital of the world around 1900.

The stove, which first made its appearance at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, was eventually moved to the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, but was destroyed a few years ago by lightening.

As part of the current work, the EPA will isolate and stabilize the contaminated sediment with an “environmental cap” of clean material that includes carbon and sand that is placed on top of it. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy will then cover the cap with stone rip rap to stabilize the seawall and provide support for the Riverwalk.

The contaminated sediment falls within the Detroit River Area of Concern (AOC), identified by the United States and Canada as one of 43 impacted areas prioritized for cleanup in the Great Lakes basin. The work will be funded through a Great Lakes Legacy Act cost-sharing partnership with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, which is contributing up to 35 percent of the $2.9 million project cost.

The two groups say collaborative financing between the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy and EPA will serve as a model for additional sediment remediation projects in the Detroit River.

The project is part of the larger effort to restore and protect the Great Lakes through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The EPA and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy have identified other areas of sediment that require remediation at various locations along the U.S. side of the Detroit River as well.

“Partnerships are critical to the success of the GLRI,” said EPA Great Lakes National Program Office Director Chris Korleski. “EPA and the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy are working better together to transform the Detroit riverfront and advance the cleanup of the Detroit River Area of Concern.”

Once the remediation work is complete along the 45-acre parcel in the fall, work will begin on the extension of the Riverwalk, which will connect Mt. Elliott Park and Gabriel Richard Park.

“We are tremendously grateful for the leadership of the EPA on this important project,” says Mark Wallace, president and CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy.  “When this new stretch of Riverwalk is complete, it will fulfill our vision of 3.5 miles of Riverwalk along the East Riverfront and it will provide a direct connection from the Riverwalk to Belle Isle.”

The East Riverfront runs from the former site of Joe Louis Arena to Gabriel Richard Park, which is just past the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle. The Conservancy’s ultimate vision is 5.5 miles of a vibrant Riverwalk and revitalized riverfront from the MacArthur Bridge to the Ambassador Bridge.

The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 with the mission to develop public access to Detroit’s riverfront and serve as an anchor for economic development.  As the permanent stewards of the Riverwalk and the Dequindre Cut, the Conservancy is responsible for raising the funds needed for construction, operation, maintenance, security and programming of the public spaces located along the riverfront.  The Conservancy’s ultimate vision is to develop five-and-a-half miles of riverfront from the Ambassador Bridge on the west to Gabriel Richard Park, just east of the MacArthur Bridge to Belle Isle.

Visit www.detroitriverfront.org for more information.

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