The binational trail system should be connected by the Gordie Howe Bridge

ByShannon J. Cortes

Sep 9, 2022

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Officials on both sides of the border signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday to develop a binational trail system that will be connected by the new Gordie Howe International Bridge.

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The agreement between the Trans Canada Trail, Ontario’s Waterfront Regeneration Trust, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources will connect Canadian trails to a pair of Michigan trails that will allow non-motorized users to get to from Detroit to the town of Ironwood in the upper peninsula of the state on the American side.

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“This is the first time this has been done bi-nationally,” said Eleanor McMahon, President and CEO of Trans Canada Trail.

“There is huge potential because people are asking for more ecotourism and other outdoor experiences. With the Gordie Howe Bridge, people can enjoy a day of biking in Essex County to the new urban national park, winery or restaurant in Detroit and back home the same day.

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McMahon added that passage over the new bridge for cyclists and hikers will be free.

The plan will connect Canada’s Great Lakes Waterfront Trail (3,600 km), part of the Trans Canada Trail (5,200 km in Ontario) to the Iron Belle Trail in Michigan (3,200 km) and the Great Lakes Way (500 km).

Organizations will collaborate on marketing and explore opportunities to use technology to enhance the trail user experience through a digital trail mirroring the physical trail.

“What people are going to start seeing are package tours, visible opportunities and incentives to go biking and hiking,” McMahon said.

“We’re going to partner up to market and leverage our resources, to let people know what’s out there. We will collectively focus on creating experiences that will put this part of the country on the map.

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Trans Canada Trail President and CEO Eleanor McMahon walks her dog Finn on the Ganatchio Trail in Windsor on Friday. The Ganatchio Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail, which will soon be connected to trails in Michigan via the Gordie Howe International Bridge. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

McMahon said the trails will bring real economic benefits to the region.

She highlighted studies done on the impact of bicycle tourism in Quebec and Pennsylvania where communities along the trails have benefited from hundreds of millions of tourist spending.

  1. Construction progress is posted Friday, August 5, 2022 on the Canadian approach to the Gordie Howe International Bridge on-ramp.

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  2. Construction activity on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, with a view from the Canadian side pictured Monday, June 13, 2022, has reached a peak.

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“We are thrilled to welcome more people to Detroit, where a great deal of time, energy and investment has created an inviting downtown ‘up north,’ and then encourage them to enjoy the rest of our beautiful state. “said Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“Recently, people have turned to the state’s trails, parks and waterways like never before in search of space, comfort and connection. The opportunities offered by this partnership will surely provide an even greater reward for getting outside.

With the planned expansion of trails on the north shore of Lake Superior, cyclists and hikers will be able to follow the coast of the entire Great Lakes basin and up the St. Lawrence River.

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Plans are underway to connect the Ontario and Michigan trail systems via the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, pictured August 5, 2022.
Plans are underway to connect the Ontario and Michigan trail systems via the new Gordie Howe International Bridge, pictured August 5, 2022. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star