New $1.5M Oxford Street Bike Trail connects Kent Trails system to Grand Rapids' parks, neighborhoods

A new three-mile bike and pedestrian trail connecting Grand Rapids' parks and neighborhoods with the Kent Trails system celebrated its grand opening Tuesday evening with an official ribbon cutting by Mayor George Heartwell during the third annual Mayor's Bike Ride.

The $1.5M Oxford Street Trail extension connects Roberto Clemente Park (where the proposed Clemente Skate Park is in the planning stages), the Black Hills and John Ball Park neighborhoods on the lower west side, and the Kent Trails system which takes users south to Millennium Park and beyond.

The trail includes a bridge over Chestnut Street and a renovated railroad trestle over the Grand River and Market Avenue SW, purchased by the City of Grand Rapids from Grand Rapids resident Bob Cunningham who bought it in a railroad auction some years ago, says Jay Steffen, director of parks and recreation for the city of Grand Rapids.

"The city has a great focus going on right now regarding the bikeability of the city, and we're trying to become a more bike-friendly community," Steffen says. "This is another great example of some of the things we've done to that end. It's another effort in our continuation to connect the dots with local and regional trail systems."

Steffen says riders traveling east to west can take the 12-foot-wide paved trail across the river, and then can choose to ride along Wealthy Street SW toward John Ball Park or travel along the Grand River for a jaunt through the former Butterworth Landfill area.

Trail funding came from a $943,000 MDOT Enhancement Grant, $20,000 Frey Foundation Grant and $518,000 from the city's capital and street fund.

Source: Jay Steffen, City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Director
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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