Federal grant funds one third of I-375 replacement project in Detroit

Federal grant funds one third of I-375 replacement project in Detroit

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  • September 15, 2022
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Detroit — The U.S. Department of Transportation is giving Michigan $104.6 million to accelerate removal of the I-375 freeway, which destroyed the prosperous Black communities of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley in the 1960s. 

The grant — the fourth largest of 26 announced by DOT on Thursday — still only funds around a third of the project’s total cost, estimated at $270 million for rebuilding and $30 million for engineering, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation. 

The proposed project would eliminate the sunken I-375 freeway that runs through Detroit and replace it with a lower-speed boulevard at city-street level. Dating back to 2013, planners have envisioned a tree-lined concourse populated by shops, restaurants, homes and pedestrians.

They have also pitched it as an important initiative to correct historic injustices by reconnecting once predominantly Black neighborhoods with the city’s downtown business districts.

“Sometimes ‘fixing the damn roads’ means facing the repercussions of how the roads were originally built,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Thursday, referencing Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2018 campaign slogan. “We raise this issue not to wallow in it, but to challenge ourselves to do something about it.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg announces nearly $105 million in funding for a project that would turn I-375 into a street-level boulevard near an on-ramp to the highway. He is joined by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Michigan Department of Transportation Director Paul Ajegba, Lafayette Park resident Izegbe N'namdi and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said the city and state are currently working on the project design, which is expected to be finalized within the next two years. Then the Detroit City Council will hold zoning hearings to determine what is developed along the new boulevard. 

The federal Department of Transportation will then have to re-designate the surplus land as State of Michigan property. “The governor, at that point, will take the lead in how it gets developed,” Duggan said.

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