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Ford may reopen Rouge River

Iveory Perkins / The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- The opening of Ford Motor Co.'s test track Wednesday signaled the company's plan to reopen part of the Rouge River through nearby Greenfield Village, restoring natural wetlands for wildlife and opening the river for recreational use.

The test track at the new Dearborn Development Center underwent a $43 million renovation. The center houses a $3 million retention pond for the water and rain runoff used on the track.

Water used on the track to simulate wet driving conditions is being diverted back into the Rouge to help restart the flow of the water in a bend, or oxbow, in the river near Greenfield Village.

The oxbow was sealed to control flooding and pollution in 1972. A collaborative effort by Ford, The Henry Ford, the city of Dearborn, and federal and state environmental authorities resulted in the opening of the lower end of the oxbow. Work is under way to connect both ends of the oxbow to provide river access for canoers.

"The benefits are the re-establishment of the natural habitat, because we are encouraging recreational use of the river and wildlife," said Stefanie Denby, spokeswoman for Ford Land.

The reconnection of the oxbow also will also enhance the amenities at Greenfield Village.

Once both ends of the oxbow reopen, water used on the track will filter through a retention pond into an underground reservoir and then get funneled through the oxbow into the Rouge.
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