The state of Michigan is moving forward with plans to replace the I-375 freeway with an urban boulevard in order to provide easier access between adjacent areas of Detroit.
The project will advance to the design phase this spring after the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) concluded its environmental review process.
According to a news release from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's office, during construction of I-375 over 50 years ago, prominent Black neighborhoods in the area—Black Bottom and Paradise Valley—were demolished to make way for the freeway at the time. The state of Michigan says the freeway opened in 1964 and created a barrier between the central business district in Detroit and the neighborhoods to the east. Several blocks of commercial and residential buildings were also leveled to make way for the freeway and urban renewal.
"As development has pushed east from downtown and west from Lafayette Park, the barrier that I-375 represents in our city has become even more apparent," Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said in a statement. "Removing the freeway ditch and replacing it with a street-level boulevard will unlock enormous development opportunities. It was Black residents and Black businesses that were hurt when Black Bottom was wiped out and they were displaced for the construction of this freeway. Black businesses today should benefit from the enormous development opportunities this project will create."
The governor's office says after nearly 60 years of use, I-375, the I-75/I-375 Interchange, and associated bridges are nearing the end of their useful service life and require modernization.
A Planning and Environmental Linkage (PEL) study that began in 2014 determined that the transformation from a freeway to a boulevard was a feasible option. The selected alternative is a street-level boulevard that will begin south of the I-75 interchange and continue to the Detroit River (Atwater Street). Other improvements include a two-way cycle track on the east side of the boulevard, which will connect with a bicycle path.
SOURCE: Office of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer