Created Equal: Residents speak out against I-375 redevelopment plan

A coalition of residents called ReThink I-375 started a petition to oppose current plans to turn the freeway into a six-lane boulevard. 

A rendering of the boulevard proposed to replace I-375. The image shows a boulevard with six to nine lanes, wide sidewalks, a two-way bicycle track and greenspace.

A rendering of a boulevard that MDOT is proposing to replace I-375.

A coalition of community voices is challenging the “I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project” to replace the one-mile stretch of freeway on the east side of downtown Detroit with a six-lane boulevard.

ReThink I-375 is a coalition of residents that want more say in how the land where the freeway sits will be re-imagined. When the freeway was built in the early 1960s, it destroyed two historically Black neighborhoods in the city and displaced residents. The Michigan Department of Transportation is leading the Reconnecting Communities Project and recognizes the history of the land, but residents feel like the initial plans aren’t doing enough to repair the history. They also have concerns about traffic and the road’s walkability.

Is there a way to balance efforts to repair the damage done by the highway in the first place? BridgeDetroit reporter Malachi Barrett and ReThink I-375 members Olga Stella and Carl Bentley joined Created Equal on Wednesday to discuss.

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Olga Stella is a member of ReThink I-375. She says the neighbors she is talking to are shocked to hear about the project.

“The kinds of concerns that we’re hearing from our neighbors and small businesses are about pedestrian safety, about public safety, access to the Detroit medical center which will be severely impacted by the design of this project,” Stella said. 

Carl Bentley is a member of ReThink I-375. He says the project isn’t just a transportation project.

“It’s not a road project, it’s a neighborhood transformation project,” Bentley said. 

Malachi Barrett is a reporter with BridgeDetroit. He says very little is known about how the project repairs the past.

“It’s tough to get concrete details from the city about what the reparative part of the project is,” Barrett said.

Listen to Created Equal with host Stephen Henderson weekdays from 9-10 a.m. ET on 101.9 WDET and streaming on-demand.

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