Whitmer requests federal support to modernize I-375, I-375/I-75 interchange

I-375 was built over 50 years ago, leading prominent Black neighborhoods to be demolished to make way for the freeway.
(Ford Field | Twitter)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 11:38 AM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Wednesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg emphasizing the importance of modernizing the I-375 and I-75/ I-375 Interchange in Detroit near Ford Field.

The historic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes a first-ever program to reconnect communities adversely hurt by infrastructure designs such as I-375 that erected barriers to mobility and opportunity and disproportionately affected communities of color.

“Right now, we have a historic opportunity to put Michiganders first and utilize the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to connect every community with safe, smooth roads and bridges,” said Gov. Whitmer. “As we build up our roads and bridges, we also have to take a closer look at the unjust legacy of so many of our freeways, including I-375 and the I-75/ I-375 Interchange, that were built decades ago by demolishing Black neighborhoods, splitting up key economic areas, and decreasing connectivity between families, communities, and small businesses.”

I-375 was built over 50 years ago. During the construction process, prominent Black neighborhoods Black Bottom and Paradise Valley were demolished to make way for the freeway. Built through a flourishing Hasting Street, the new I-375 opened in 1964 and created a literal barrier between the central business district in Detroit and the neighborhoods to the east. This resulted in decades of underinvestment and a lack of opportunity for the predominantly Black communities on the other side of the freeway.

Multiple blocks of both commercial and residential buildings were leveled to make way for the freeway and urban renewal. While I-375 has a number of cross-bridges, many properties declined due to the reduced connectivity, primarily since the community’s economic and residential base was substantially dislocated.

Now, nearly three generations later, Michigan has the chance to eliminate this obstacle and provide easier access to better jobs, services, and quality of life to the residents of nearby areas.

Following 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.

“After the passage of the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, we can build up local roads and bridges the right way across Michigan, bringing communities together and bridging economic divides by creating thousands of good-paying jobs for Michiganders and ensuring small businesses, downtowns, and neighborhoods have high-quality, reliable infrastructure to rely on as we usher in a new era of prosperity for our state,” Gov. Whitmer said. “I look forward to working with the legislature and our federal partners to get the job done.”

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and local officials including Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan are partnering to create plans that will take out the depressed freeway and build an urban boulevard with accessibility for all users, including pedestrians and cyclists.

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