New grant is big step toward vast improvement in non-motorized connectivity in Taylor

Illustration courtesy of the city of Taylor

Illustration courtesy of the city of Taylor

TAYLOR — In an effort to increase connectivity across the city, SEMCOG’s Regional Clearinghouse Review Committee has selected the community for Transportation Alternatives Program funding in 2018, with focus on the to-be-developed “Fletcher Discovery Trail.”

The main focus of the connectivity grant is:

• To provide non-motorized connectivity between neighborhoods, parks, education and commerce centers.
• Move people safely by improving walkability and bikeability.
• Provide comfortable access to all ages.
• Open access to surrounding neighborhoods.
• Make pedestrians comfortable.
• Create recreational destinations.
• Promote economic development and quality of life.

SEMCOG is awarding TAP funds of $443,865, with the city to match $295,910. The total budget for this project is $739,775. The TAP announcement is one of several chapters of this project, which will create walking, jogging and cycling paths and other non-motor vehicle enhancements extending out from the community’s “cultural corridor” of Heritage Park and the Wayne County Community College’s District Downriver campus.

The old Fletcher School site along Pardee Road near Superior is the key element to this particular step in the process. Fletcher School was demolished last year. The property, which is traversed by a long drain, is not ideally suitable for development.

Instead, a Fletcher Discovery Trail will be anchored by turning the property into parkland, with connective asphalt pathways cutting through. The new and existing pathways would create connectivity from midtown — Goddard Road — through Heritage Park, WCCCD, Racho Road, Fletcher and on into the Eureka Road business corridor to the south and Telegraph Road to the west.

“We’re very pleased to receive this important grant,” Mayor Rick Sollars said. “Increasing alternative transportation options in our community is part of our greater vision moving forward, a vision not only shared by our partners at SEMCOG, but the leadership at Wayne County Community College, which has supported our efforts in creating a ‘cultural corridor ’ in and around the Heritage Park location.

“The city of Taylor currently lacks the presence of any bike or pedestrian routes or pathways. This grant award will allow us to offer safer options for bikers and pedestrians in our community.

“The creation of the Fletcher Discovery Trail will serve as yet another productive chapter in those efforts, connecting key areas like Heritage Park, WCCCD, Superior Boulevard, the Eureka Way retail and entertainment district and even Telegraph Road.”

Through the TAP grant, a 10-foot wide path will be created from the Northline Road entrance to Heritage Park south down Racho Road all the way to Eureka. It also will cut through the Fletcher property, and connect with Pardee and Superior. A new sidewalk will be created from Pardee to Racho to connect other sidewalks.

New bike sharing roads with sharrows and signage will come down Katherine Street from Goddard Road to Heritage Park and from Racho Road all the way down Superior to the Taylor Sportsplex. A sharrow, or shared-lane marking, is a street marking placed in the travel lane to indicate where people should preferably cycle.

Because of the new connectivity, new bike racks will be located at City Hall, Taylor Recreation Center, Taylor Community Library, Heritage Park, WCCCD, the new Fletcher Park, Taylor Sportsplex, Meijer and Southland Center.

Other specific plans for the new Fletcher Park will be announced soon.

Sollars said the plans in the TAP grant fit nicely into future plans for the Eureka Road business district, which is undergoing its biggest modernization in decades, because of investments from Southland Center and Menards.

A partnership between Wayne County and the Taylor Tax Increment Finance Authority calls for new streetscape project including a bike-pedestrian friendly district between Allen Road and Telegraph. This would include traveler-friendly bus stops — there are 12 in that area — better connectivity to shopping centers and improved intersections.

Southland has invested tens of millions of dollars into its mall, a key element being the creation of the Cinemark theater where Mervyn’s once sat. Other key additions have been H&M, Primanti Bros. and Grimaldi’s. BJ Restaurant and Brewhouse is getting ready to be built on the out lot near Pardee and Eureka.

Menards brought the entire 80-acre property where the Gibraltar Trade Center once stood, and is planning to begin building soon. In that area, Wayne County already moved up improvements to Eureka Road specifically targeting the Menards’ project, which will be called Trader’s Point.

It will include at least two other major retailers and many other smaller businesses. The project has been compared to Fairlane Green in Allen Park, commonly known as “The Hill;” however, Trader’s Point is much bigger in scope.

As a result of all of this activity, many others have sited in the general area. Wahlburgers, of actor Mark Wahlberg fame, purchased the old Big Boy and will renovate it and open this summer. La-Z-Boy recently built a showroom on the old Taylor Tool site, and that development will include a Pearle Vision, Tropic Smoothie and a fitness center.

Others that have moved into the district include Golden Corral, Vitamin Shoppe, Qdoba, SkyZone, Panera Bread and PizzaPapalis. Bubba’s 33 restaurant, a spinoff of Texas Roadhouse, plans a location in the Burlington Square and a Hilton Home2Suites location has been approved near Gander Mountain, adjacent to Southland.

Connecting residents safely and comfortably with business, entertainment and recreational points is a key driver in Taylor’s resurgence as a community.

Using an existing grant, the city already has made improvements to Heritage Park. Within weeks, the dead end road that leads east out of Heritage Park toward WCCCD will be connected to the campus. That will make Heritage Park’s existing pathways that much more attractive, and offer walkers, joggers and cyclist longer routes without crossing major streets.

Another grant, via WCCCD, also will motorize the waterwheel at Coan Lake, which also will be fitted with lights for the first time. At night, the lights on the waterwheel and the three new fountains in the waterway will create a setting for park-goers.

For more on SEMCOG and TAP, click here.