Visioning the Allen Creek Greenway: Designing a Path, Creating a Place (2012)

Client Organization: 
Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

See 5 minute You-Tube Video: 

The basic overview is to research requirements for a "Rails with Trails" Greenway (width, barrier between Greenway and active railroad track) that will proceed from Stadium Boulevard following the route of the Ann Arbor Railroad at grade from Stadium Blvd to Liberty where the railroad begins to climb to cross the Huron River.

Innovative design is encourage to link three existing City properties along the route (1st and William, 415 West Washington Street and 611 North Main Street utilizing the Greenway as a linking connector.  The overall goal is to provide a safe and viable Greenway that will link downtown Ann Arbor with the Athletic Campus and possible the North Campus plus to use the Greenway as a connection to the Washtenaw County Border to Border Trail between Livingston County and Wayne County. 

It is anticipated that it will be necessary to work closely with the City of Ann Arbor including but not limited to City Council, A2 Parks Department, and the A2 Transportation Planning group; the University of Michigan Transportation Planning Department; the Washtenaw County Drain Commission as well as the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission.  It is anticipated that innovative stormwater projects will be considered in the design of the Greenway especially in the City properties in order to capture and reduce stormwater inflow into the Allen Creek Drain.  The design may also address a new decking on the existing Argo Dam to facilitate bicycles, roller blades, pedestrian walkers and handicapped individuals to cross the Huron River.

Skills/Expertise Needed: 

Design abilities and creative thinking; research aptitude; capability to take on professional responsibilities; vision; perseverance to see tasks through to completion; ability to work effectively with a team;  ability to work effectively with the Board of Directors and the Advisory Council of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy as well as the several governmental units and citizen groups that have key rolls in the planning and implementation of the greenway.  It is anticipated that given the nature of the Allen Creek Greenway Project, a multi-disciplinary team is highly desirable including landscape architecture, urban planning, environmental policy and behavior, urban planning, stormwater planning and management are representative examples.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Landscape Architecture
Professional Career Development Benefits: 

It is anticipated that the students who work on this project will benefit professionally in a number of important ways.  These students will experience the application of non-motorized transportation design in an urban setting that is functionally decayed.  It will enable the students to provide appropriate conceptual design images for the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy to enable their product(s) to be shared widely in the community. 

The students will gain through the very practice of interacting with personnel from the City of Ann Arbor, the staff and members of the Washtenaw County Parks and recreation Commission, the Washtenaw Drain Commission Office and the University of Michigan Transportation planners. The students will communicate their work in stages to the members of the Board of Directors and members of the Advisory Council of the Allen Creek Greenway Conservancy. 

This effort may result in a paper for a professional conference or a journal if the project team produces a useful and professionally solid product.  In addition, this activity is a real project that has momentum that has been a concept for a number of years in the community.  It will expose students to a variety of folks: local government, rail road company, home owners, small business people, major research university, mixed traffic types (pedestrians, rail, and vehicle) in an urban setting, as well as all the natural resource issues including flood plain management of the floodway and flood plain along the Allen Creek Drain.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

It is anticipated that the Allen Creek Greenway will serve as a connector to the Border-to-Border Trail that extends ~35 miles from Wayne County through Washtenaw County up to Livingston County.  As a connector to the B-2-B Trail, the Greenway will enable its users to reach the B-2-B Trail and also provide a Greenway into Ann Arbor for users of the nearly completed B-2-B Trail.

Accordingly, it is anticipated that the students will produce a Design Report including text and design layouts that provide a contemporary conceptual quality design of the potential route of the Allen Creek Greenway from Stadium Boulevard through to the Huron River and to Argo Dam.  Preliminary cost estimates of the construction of the Greenway including barriers to separate the greenway from the active rail plus the costs of innovative stormwater facilities and the costs of providing native trees and plants along the route would be included in the Design Report.  A first task will be to review and digest the existing Allen Creek Greenway plans and design documents that have been developed over the past twenty years.

Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Jonathan Bulkley
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Ariel Shaw, MLA, Landscape Architecture
  • Pete Sanderson, MLA, Landscape Architecture
  • Jordan Sebastian, MLA, Landscape Architecture
Project Status: 
Past Project