There’s an international movement to reevaluate the impacts and needs for urban freeways. They negatively affect walkability, bikeability, and take up a lot of valuable land for a low-density use in high-density downtowns. For many years, I-375 has been a candidate for a partial or full conversion to an urban boulevard, especially as its bridges approach the end of their lifespan.
Now it’s more than just a discussion. MDOT has completed a draft Environmental Assessment for what could replace I-375.
The proposed design converts the current freeway to a boulevard with fewer lanes overall. It removes the short freeway stub south of Eastern Market while restoring some of the original street grid. Bicycle cycletracks would be added that connect the RiverWalk, stadium area, Greektown, and Eastern Market. More sidewalks are included, too. Overall there’s less impervious surface and opportunities to add green stormwater infrastructure. Nearly 32 acres of land would potentially become available for other uses.
Is it perfect? No, but it’s certainly an improvement.
MDOT is now collecting public comment on this proposal. They will host a virtual event on January 27th and an in-person hearing on the 28th (Registration). Comments can also be emailed (MDOT-I-375Corridor@Michigan.gov) or submitted through this on-line form.
You may have read about the construction funding for this project being delayed until 2027 against the City of Detroit’s wishes. It is possible that new federal funding could fund this project and make it a reality much sooner.
Changes in Washington DC
Changes in leadership at the Whitehouse and Senate will likely result in changes to transportation policy and funding, but it’s too soon to have a full view of what those will be.
One certain change is a renewed focus on combating climate change through investment in clean transportation.
Communities across the country are experiencing a growing need for alternative and cleaner transportation options, including transit, dedicated bicycle and pedestrian thoroughfares, and first- and last-mile connections. The Biden Administration will transform the way we fund local transportation, giving state and local governments, with input from community stakeholders, more flexibility to use any new transportation funds to build safer, cleaner, and more accessible transportation ecosystem.
John Kerry, an active bicyclist, is now a Climate Czar for the administration.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the nominee for Transportation Secretary. He’s been saying some positive words that would support our work.
There are so many ways that people get around, and I think often we’ve had an auto-centric view that has forgotten, historically, about all of the other different modes. We want to make sure anytime we’re doing a street design that it enables cars, and bicycles, and pedestrians and any other modes — and businesses — to co-exist in a positive way, and we should be putting funding behind that.
Another potential change is the inclusion of infrastructure funding within an economic stimulus bill. That’s been long promised and it’s not yet clear that this time it’ll happen.
- East Jefferson bike lane use. We counted bikes using E. Jefferson in Jefferson-Chalmers before the protected bike lanes were installed. We counted them again last year during the same month of September and saw 108 per day. This was a 48% increase from 2015. That’s quite good given that fewer people are commuting to work.
- Thanks Strava. For those that don’t know, Strava is an app primarily used to collect and track bicycling and running workouts. We now have access to Strava’s generalized riding and run data. It shows which streets are more used than others and could be a helpful tool for justifying infrastructure improvements. The caveat is that Strava users are typically recreational and are not a representative sample of all Detroit bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Cadillac Stamping and the Conner Creek Greenway. Recent news about the redevelopment of the former Cadillac Stamping Plant didn’t include an important update for those who use the Conner Creek Greenway/Iron Belle Trail along Conner. The new development is adjacent to the greenway and had plans for its busy truck traffic to cross the greenway. We strongly felt that greenway users shouldn’t have to deal with this truck conflict, so we discussed this with Council member Scott Benson. He worked with the developer and city staff to re-route the truck access point so it doesn’t cut across the greenway. As a bonus, the developer is honoring our request to remove an unsightly, unused parking lot along the greenway.
- Brodhead Armory Redevelopment. There are two public outreach meetings scheduled at 5:30pm on January 26th and February 16th. These meetings will review The Parade Company’s plans for Brohead Armory east of Gabriel Richard Park. The plans include a short RiverWalk extension. These meetings are focusing primarily on nearby residents.
- A Resilient Model for Green Transportation: MoGo’s Solar Power Bike Stations (YouTube), Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice
- City of Detroit seeks community input as it develops ‘Streets for People’ transportation plan, Model D
- Separate but together: Detroit’s 2020 in pictures, Civic Commons