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.