Michigan DOT to replace I-375 freeway with surface street

Dec. 6, 2017

Officials say the decision is the result of years of study and debate

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has announced its intention to proceed with plans to gut Detroit’s I-375 expressway and restore in its location a surface street by 2022.

At present, funding has yet to be arranged, but MDOT’s resolve in this matter appears to be firm. Where the freeway presently runs, a new surface street would contain landscaped medians, bicycle lanes and possibly a dedicated multimodal bus lane.

I-375 runs south from I-75 along the east side of downtown. The creation of I-75 and I-375 a half-century ago effectively decimated the historic African-American neighborhood known as Black Bottom.

The discussion about turning I-375 back into a surface street began four years ago. Built in 1964 at a cost of $50 million, I-375 runs slightly more than a mile along Detroit’s east side and is now reaching the end of its useful life.

Removing I-375 would mark the first of metro Detroit’s many expressways to be ripped out and replaced with a surface street. But multiple other cities have also taken such measures, including Seattle, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Portland. Such decisions are seen as a mode of reparation against the damage to local neighborhoods caused by the insertion of massive freeways into urban centers.