New tourism strategy for Michigan and Ontario greenways planned with Gordie Howe Bridge

What’s happening: As details of the Gordie Howe International Bridge have been revealed over these past several years, there were few more exciting tidbits announced than plans to include a pedestrian and bicycle walkway in its design and construction — a feature that both the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel notably lack. Come the bridge’s expected completion date in 2024, the Gordie Howe will not only provide an additional option for car and truck traffic to traverse the busiest border crossing in North America, but also provide travelers the ability to travel internationally by foot or by bicycle, too. Late last week, an international assembly of community stakeholders gathered across the river in Windsor, Ontario, to announce their plans to leverage the new bridge as the linchpin of a new international tourism industry.

International partnerships: The Waterfront Regeneration Trust Corporation and Trans Canada Trail organizations, both of Canada, have partnered with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to develop the Gordie Howe International Bridge as a binational tourism destination, signing a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their commitment in doing just that. The four organizations will work to have a tourism strategy developed in time for the bridge’s planned 2024 opening.

What’s planned: The partner organizations will develop a trail destination experience, promoting the bridge as the connecting access point for more than 5,400 miles of Ontario greenways and more than 2,000 miles of Michigan greenways. They will collaborate on marketing strategies and explore ways to incorporate technology into the trail-user experience.

Why it’s important: The Gordie Howe International Bridge non-motorized multi-use path will allow pedestrians and cyclists toll-free travel across the Detroit-Windsor border, connecting travelers to any number of tourist destinations in the neighboring cities. More than 7,000 miles of Michigan and Ontario greenways will also connect at the bridge, including the Iron Belle Trail (2,000+ miles) and The Great Lakes Way (160 miles) in Michigan, and the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail (2,200+ miles) and Trans Canada Trail (3,200+ miles) in Ontario. The entire Trans Canada Trail travels 15,000 miles from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean, the longest such trail network in the world.

Click HERE to explore the network of Michigan and Ontario trails soon to be connected by the Gordie Howe International Bridge.

What they’re saying: “There are many ways Michigan continues to earn its reputation as our nation’s Trails State, and this partnership shines an international spotlight on enviable trail resources and outdoor adventure on both sides of the bridge,” says Dan Eichinger, director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“We’re excited about welcoming more people to Detroit, where much time, energy and investment have created an inviting bit of ‘up north’ downtown, and then encouraging them to take in the rest of our beautiful state. We’re especially proud of the Iron Belle Trail, stretching along two hiking and bicycling routes from Belle Isle Park in Detroit to Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula. Recently, people have turned to state trails, parks and waterways like never before, seeking space, comfort and connection. The opportunities afforded by this partnership surely will provide even greater reward for getting outdoors.”

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.