How Michigan agencies are addressing inequalities in infrastructure projects

Ongoing development projects are aimed at including voices of impacted residents, says OHM President Jon Kramer.

The history of infrastructure projects in the first half of the 20th century is often quite dark. Some of them — particularly the highways that crisscross the country — pummeled through Black and brown communities without listening to input from the people who lived in those neighborhoods. And it’s not just what was done but what wasn’t. Poorer communities must constantly deal with dirty air, unclean water, inferior public parks, recreation facilities and libraries.

What is the right way to think about infrastructure that brings about equality, fairness and racial justice? More public officials are actually weighing their decisions in that context and making decisions that will push us toward equality instead of pulling us away from it.

We have to engage the community that we are trying to [assist].” — Paul Ajegba, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation

Listen: How infrastructure experts are reflecting on the past to build a better present.



Jon Kramer is the president of OHM Advisors. Kramer says he has been working with Detroiters in the Cadieux and East Warren area to create more development projects. “It really offers an extensive opportunity for revitalization due to its strong community leadership as well as the commercial district along East Warren and existing assets such as the Alger Theater and Balduck Park,” he says.

Paul Ajegba is the director of the Michigan Department of Transportation. Ajegba says trust is hard to rebuild in many communities for the exclusive ways that projects have been previously conducted. “We have to engage the community that we are trying to [assist],” he says.

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  • Sam Corey
    Sam Corey is a producer for The Metro on 101.9 WDET. In that role, he goes out in search of fun and interesting stories for radio. He enjoys salsa dancing — and actual salsa.