Created Equal: ReThink I-375 coalition releases list of ‘action items’ for MDOT

Coalition members Melanie Markowicz and Kimle Nailer joined the show on Wednesday to discuss the group’s action items and how the state has responded so far.

A rendering of the proposed boulevard replacing Interstate 375 in Detroit.

A rendering of the proposed boulevard replacing Interstate 375 in Detroit.

ReThink I-375, a coalition of community voices challenging the I-375 Reconnecting Communities Project,” released a list of 11 action items directed to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and other government officials on Tuesday.

The list included ways they’d like the project to be reworked in terms of design and construction to ensure beneficial outcomes for neighboring residents.

Central to their criticism is the fact that the road is being designed largely without community input. The coalition suggests reverse engineering the I-375 corridor by starting with the needs of the surrounding businesses and community and then moving onto road design and construction. 

A poor redesign could have a detrimental impact on the neighborhood, the coalition says, noting how a lack of community input during the initial construction of I-375 in the early 1960s led to the destruction and displacement of two historically Black neighborhoods — Black Bottom and Paradise Valley.

Today on Created Equal, host Stephen Henderson spoke with Melanie Markowicz and Kimle Nailer, two members of the coalition, about the group’s action items and how the state has responded so far. 

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Melanie Markowicz is the executive director of the Greektown Neighborhood Partnership. As an urban planner, she finds MDOT’s prioritization of road construction over the future vitality of the community concerning.

“Who are we doing this for? Because it doesn’t seem like we’re increasing pedestrian safety, or those on bicycles. It doesn’t feel like we’re connecting, and it feels like we’re actually creating a larger divide,” she said. “So certainly we have issues with the design itself, but also the lack of construction mitigation threatens the survival of these historic districts and that cultural identity.”

Kimle Nailer is the president of Nail-Rite Construction Company. She says that it is essential to create designs that include input from customers for the success of a business. 

“At the end of the day, it seemed like MDOT was creating as much land as possible without thinking about how they were bypassing businesses completely,” she said. “[They] would be completely cut off [and] their traffic flow would be eliminated–which means that business would be annihilated at the same time.”

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