I don't have to travel far from my home to get to a funky urban trail called the Dequindre Cut. Originally, it was one of several below-grade railroad
corridors that serviced the warehouses and factories that used to dominate Detroit's riverfront area.   "The Ravine" as I refer to it, has now been
transformed into a jogging and cycling trail that will connect to Detroit's popular RiverWalk.   Though it officially opened May 14th, 2009, I began
riding my bicycle down in the Cut frequently as soon as it was paved in fall of 2008.
My previous home was in Hyde Park Cooperative - a stone's throw from the Cut.   In 1981, when I moved into Hyde Park Co-op, there was a commuter train operating
between Pontiac and the Ren Cen, with a couple stops between.   Sometimes when I would ride my bike to work, that train would be rolling south in the Cut just
as I turned south along St. Aubin, and I would race against the plume of smoke rising up from the ravine.   After those days, the tracks sat unused for
more than a decade.
In the last several years there had been talk about "doing something" with the unused railroad right-of-way.   That prompted me to ride my bike through the cut on a
number of occassions to observe for myself what any clean-up might entail.   I would ride from Mack Avenue down to Woodbridge Street, and the ride was not one
for the faint-hearted.   There were lots of places where the large loose gravel made it almost impossible to ride.   It took all of my strength in low gear
on the mountain bike to keep rolling.   Then there were people living under some of the overpasses, the occasional wild dog, debris that had been thrown off the
overpasses to be dodged, and large patches of vegetation to circumnavigate.   What I especially liked about riding down in the Cut was the abundance of nature:
the wildflowers, the butterflies.   There was moth mullein growing down there, and tons of teasels - some seven feet tall.   Just as plentiful were the
empty spray cans.   Someone could have done a good business by opening a paint store down there.   There were even abandoned paint rollers, extensions,
and roller pans.
When it was announced that the ravine was to be turned into a jogging path, I bet (my now ex) Theresa fifty dollars that the ravine wouldn't be turned into anything
during our lifetimes.   Any project in the Dequindre Cut was doomed to be a "black hole" for money (as is indeed currently the case.)   The Dequindre Cut
project is woefully underfunded.   Ugly fences remain on the topside, the project's "landscaping" is almost non-existent, but inspite of all that, the
Cut is something to be proud of.   It is to the credit of the planners that this phase of the project has been completed.   Looking down into the Cut from
the overpasses, it does look sort of impressive, and I did pay Theresa.
Using Microsoft EXCEL, I designed a diagram of the Cut.   It's not perfectly to scale, but it's close enough.  The diagram shows the bridges with their
names, and the abutments of former brigdes which I numbered for convenience of reference. It prints on two 8½ X 11 pages.   You can trim the border of
one page, tape the pages together, and laminate it for a nice reference.   Diagram
I have recently updated the diagram, and included indications of the four bridge abutments which have fencing around them.
Once the Cut was open for business, whenever anyone would ask my opinion of it, I always answered that I considered it a novelty - not really useful to me.   Now that
I have used the Cut for winter riding on several occasions when a trip to Belle Isle would have been too snowy, I have had to revise my condescending opinion of
that subterranean path.   It seems that the Cut's roadway is cleaned off quickly after snowfalls, even larger ones.   It is courtesy of the Cut that my days of
riding in January and February have been so high.   I used the nicely accurate odometer of the Sierra to measure the length of the Cut in its current state
of completion.   From my house to the bottom of the Lafayette down ramp is 0.52 miles.   The round trip from Woodbridge Street to the top of the Gratiot down ramp,
and back, is 1.85 miles.   To cover the 11.6 miles of my Belle Isle rides, I have to ride at least six laps of the Cut.   Along with the ride there
and back, that's 12.14 miles.   It might be a little boring riding back and forth, but in the winter, at least, it's like a private road.