The Root River West Bluff Overlook Project was identified as one of the top implementation priorities in the RootWorks Root River Corridor Redevelopment Plan. In 2012, the Root River Council retained Vandewalle & Associates to prepare the programmatic vision and schematic design of the West Bluff Overlook to take the concept to the next level of design and implementation detail.
Located between the Jens Jensen-designed park system to the west of Downtown and Lake Michigan Harbor to the east, the West Bluff Overlook is the missing link to unite a city-wide off-street bicycle and pedestrian path – the Root River Pathway. The design vision for the West Bluff Overlook project is to create a public space that is more than a simple pathway; rather it is an inspired urban natural area enriched with place-based interactive learning opportunities. As illustrated in Exhibit 1: Root River West Bluff Overlook perspective sketch, the design vision contains four character zones that are defined by their potential learning opportunities: (1) Overlook, (2) Outdoor Classroom, (3) Stormwater and (4) Fishery & Water Quality. The schematic design project includes the conceptual alignment of an off-street path located between Marquette and 6th Streets; a 6th Street marsupial bridge; presents opportunities for community connection nodes (outdoor classroom, council ring and overlook); and provides general cost estimates, teeing this project up for grant opportunities and next steps for implementation.