WINDSOR, ONT. -- A project to honour boxing legend Joe Louis has broken ground in Detroit.

On Monday, officials announced the first section of what will be a 44 km, or 27.5-mile active transportation greenway in Motown.

“The Joe Louis Greenway is about two things: Honoring one of our city’s greatest and most loved citizens and creating opportunity for Detroiters,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Not too long from now, residents living right here near Joy Road and Greenlawn will have a safe and beautiful recreational trail that will connect them to our beautiful riverfront and to other great neighborhoods and commercial corridors across our city.”

The $211.8 million project aims to create “active open space” for more Detroit residents. A news release from the mayor’s office says around 46,000 people living in Detroit do not live within a 10-minute walking distance to a park, while a forth of resident don’t have access to a vehicle. The greenway will help to bring walkable green space to 10 per cent of all city residents.

joe louis greenway

The Joe Louis Greenway will loop the city and connect with the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will have a dedicated lane for bicycle and pedestrian traffic to and from Windsor.

“The level of pride for African Americans in the accomplishments of our dad, Joe Louis, is immeasurable. We realize God's plan for this grandson of slaves was not just to become the greatest heavyweight champion of all times, but to change the hearts of Americans of all races. Due to the steadfast commitment of Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit City Council, the Joe Louis Greenway will stand as a monument to the legacy of the iconic life of a true American Hero, Joe Louis, we are eternally grateful,” the Joe Louis family said.

The entire project is expected to take 10 years to complete.