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Belle Isle Park Multimodal Mobility Study

bridge over river

Belle Isle Park Multimodal Mobility Study

To help ease traffic congestion and increase public safety at Belle Isle Park, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Belle Isle Conservancy, has launched a comprehensive multimodal transportation and traffic study, expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Wade Trim, a metro Detroit-based engineering consultant firm, will complete the study.

The purpose of the study is to increase safety and enjoyment, improve wayfinding and ease travel for all users and modes. The goal is to develop a phased strategy for implementing sustainable improvements to better manage all modes of travel, circulation and parking on the island.

Belle Isle Multimodal Mobility Study logo with colorful lines

Get involved

Public input is a crucial component for creating meaningful public spaces. To find solutions that work, we want to hear from everyone who works and plays on the island. The survey – available in English, Spanish and Arabic – is open through Sunday, Feb. 19. The survey can also be taken by phone and paper copies are available by calling at 313-261-5059.

Take public input survey »

Belle Isle Park, a 985-acre island park located in the Detroit River near downtown Detroit, provides spectacular views of Detroit to the north and Canada to the south. It's home to the James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Ralph Wilson Gateway (which serves as the official southern trailhead for Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail), trails, a designated swim beach, picnic shelters, play equipment, a golf course and many more cultural and natural attractions.

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Data collection to date

Comprehensive data collection is key to understanding current mobility conditions and vetting possible improvement strategies. From July through September 2022, the following was collected by the project team:

  • Counts, including turning movements of vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle transportation modes at 60 intersections/driveways on the island.
  • An aerial traffic inventory study that included 38 flights over the island. Images were taken every 2 seconds and stitched together to create "hourly" aerial images of the island to help illustrate congestion points and popular areas.
  • In-person observations of how people use and move around the island.
  • Discussions with DNR and Belle Isle Conservancy staff to gather their perspectives.
  • Early intercept survey of almost 400 people using the island.
  • Inventory of regulatory and wayfinding signs.
  • Visitor-use counts via video recording for key areas including the beach, fountain, shelters, Paddock parking area and toll booths.
  • Crash analysis and conflict study to address and evaluate safety improvements.

Next steps in the study

Over the next several months the team will:

  • Continue to meet with stakeholder groups, including park tenants, vendors, staff, and others who have close relationships with the island, to hear their perspectives and concerns.
  • Begin public outreach and  launch a broad public input survey to capture community feedback.  The online survey will be live through Feb. 19, 2023.
  • Develop draft strategies over the winter/spring months. The project team will then facilitate a series of opportunities in spring 2023 to talk with the public and stakeholders about the draft strategies for feedback and continued refinement.
  • Public and stakeholder feedback will be incorporated into the study analysis and final recommendations for improving park safety and access.


Amanda Treadwell, Department of Natural Resources,

Lori Pawlik, Wade Trim,

Study schedule

July - August 2022

  • Research and data collection

September - November 2022

  • Data processing and analysis

December 2022 - March 2023

  • Regional public input survey (Jan/Feb)
  • Develop strategies
  • Round 1 outreach and engagement

April - July 2023

  • Refine strategies
  • Round 2 outreach and engagement
  • Share ideas and gather feedback

August - November 2023

  • Finalize strategies and prepare for implementation
  • Round 3 outreach and engagement
  • Share ideas and gather feedback