A Grand River transformation project is underway thanks to the recent state infrastructure plan.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last week signed an infrastructure investment plan into law that awards Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. (DGRI) $55 million to revitalize the Grand River in urban areas of Kent County.
With the funds, the proposed Grand River Greenway project will expand the public park system along the riverfront and create nonmotorized public trails that connect people to the parks and other regional trails. This coincides with community-driven initiatives, such as River for All, GR Forward and Green Grand Rapids, that are seeking to improve existing parks.
“Thank you to Gov. Whitmer, Rep. Albert, Sen. Huizenga, Sen. Brinks, Rep. Hood and all the other state leaders for their partnership and investment in this transformative project for Grand Rapids and West Michigan,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “With this additional funding, we will significantly accelerate our work to build a river for all, keep moving GR forward and unify the regional recreational trail system across Grand Rapids, Kent and Ottawa Counties.”
The full vision also includes plans to remove several unused, low-head dams and put the rapids back in the Grand River waterway.
DGRI expects the proposed expansion projects will occur over the next four to five years, with work on the rapids breaking ground in 2022.
The idea for the Grand River Greenway project originated in Ottawa County, where efforts to acquire riverfront property, expand public parks and implement the potential Idema Explorers Trail connecting Grand Haven to Grand Rapids were in place for years.
The plans for Grand Rapids also identify various riverfront “opportunity sites” as possible redevelopment areas for housing, new businesses, cultural amenities and other opportunities.
Existing public parks that will benefit from the state funding include Lyon Square, Ah-Nab-Awen Park and Sixth Street Park.