$105M federal grant will help turn I-375 back into boulevard

Posted at 5:49 AM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 06:26:59-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan is getting a $105 million boost from the federal government for a massive freeway redevelopment project in Downtown Detroit.

The money is part of a special grant program to improve areas that were damaged by the interstate highway system.

It's expected to help I-375, which links I-75 to Jefferson in Downtown Detroit, turn back into an urban boulevard. That plan has been in the works for years.

When I-375 was built, it cut through historic Black Detroit neighborhoods Black Bottom and Paradise Valley.

Former Black Bottom resident, historians talk legacy of 'Detroit's forgotten neighborhood'

"Before the freeway was here, it was an urban boulevard," Historian Ken Coleman said.

President Joe Biden's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant seeks to help bring the I-375 urban boulevard back.

All told, the I-375 modernization project is expected to cost nearly $330 million and is slated to start in 2027 and be completed in 2029.

MDOT told us last month the highway will be turned into a boulevard from I-75 to Atwater.

"I understand the design has been almost completely finished," Michael Case, an MDOT Specialist, said.

The federal grant money is part of a larger effort from the Biden administration to address the negative effects of American's interstate system on both rural and urban areas.

Before the construction of I-375 in the mid-1960s, predominantly Black neighborhoods like Black Bottom were razed under the guise of urban renewal.

What is now a busy freeway used to be called Hastings St.

The grant money seeks to reconnect neighborhoods divided by modern highways.

Back in December, Coleman said he welcomes the move, but notes it's not going to replace what was lost.

"I think it would be great for the city. I don't know if this community is ever going to return to the cultural, Black history cultural grandeur that was here 60, 70, and 80 years ago," Coleman said.

Also included in the project, the removal of the Jefferson Ave. curve, new LED lighting, the removal of 15 old bridges, wider sidewalks, and improved pedestrian crossings.