Are Detroit freeways cleaner since the city took over responsibility? We compared to last year

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 24, 2024

(WXYZ) — There has been so much work to get ready for the NFL Draft, including cleaning up the freeways.

A year ago, pieces of paper, plastic bottles and cans and even spare tires lined the freeway. But it was also a year ago when the City of Detroit took over the contract from the Michigan Department of Transportation to clean the freeways.

I took a tour of the city just to see how bad the issue was, and now, I went back to the same spots to see if they were clean.

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Our first stop to see if the freeways were cleaned up was the Lodge near Wyoming. Last year, we found a mattress. That mattress that we found a year ago is still here.

There was still garbage in the trees and bushes. However, we also found progress. The shoulders were much cleaner.

The big difference came when we checked out I-75 near Michigan Ave.

Just driving by it does look a lot cleaner along I-75 then last year. Our photographer, Danny Stricker, flew the drone last year and we sent o

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ne up again.

You could see a clear and cleaner difference.

However, are Detroiters seeing a difference.

“Have you noticed a difference with the trash on the freeways?” I asked Wesley Nethercott.

“No I really haven’t," he said.

I met Wesley and Shawun Nethercott at James Oliver Coffee Company in Corktown.

While Wesley hasn't seen a difference, Shaun says he has seen some change but more needs to be done.

“I’ve noticed that it has patchily improved, so for instance The Lodge close to town is still bad, but 75 close to town is good," Shaun said. "You know 94 is kinda patchy especially where there is construction there still is kinda a lot of mess, 96 doesn’t seem to be improved at all.”

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I took these concerns to the General Service Department Director Crystal Perkins.

“I did speak to some people that live in Detroit and they said that yeah they’ve seen some progress but that more needs to be done, what would you tell those people?” I asked.

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“I would tell them to be patient, we are making great progress, it is a situation where have to educate or resident and our visitors on helping us maintain the freeways. Just has fast as we can getting them clean they are back littered, they are back dirtied," Perkins said.

"When I first moved here it was like wow this is really bad, but now its like a lot cleaner. I just hope they can keep it up," Janet Fernandez added.

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Fernandez moved from California to Detroit four years ago, and while yes she sees the change, she wants to make sure that change goes beyond the NFL Draft.

“I feel like there should be more, and there still should continue to be more not just because the NFL is coming here," she said.

“Is this going to be an ongoing effort past the draft?” I asked Perkins.

“That is the goal, absolutely, as long as we can continue to have the funding for it we want our city to look clean and beautiful and not just because we will have visitors in town," she said.

There are plans to plant more trees and shrubs this year along I-75 and I-96, with 477 plantings planned along I-75 and 581 on I-96.

There have even been daffodils planted not only in the parks, but along parts of the embankment.

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