Streetfilms recently posted a video on freeway removal.
It may surprise many Detroiters that MDOT’s plan to extend I-375 south to Atwater will be officially dropped this summer. Yes, I-375, the shortest signed interstate in the U.S. at 1.06 miles was going to gain a few more blocks to connect with the GM/Renaissance parking lots.
According to an old MDOT press release, “The new interchange will improve access between the interstate system and the area just east of General Motor’s World Headquarters in the Renaissance Center.”
The end of I-375 will be moved from Jefferson (where traffic continues west) to Atwater. Dyche Anderson explains the unconventional interchange design: “Heading southbound from Jefferson, there will be an exit for Franklin St Westbound, and an entrance – heading south – for Franklin Eastbound. There will be an exit for Atwater, but the freeway will do a U-turn and continue northbound. Heading north, there will be an entrance from Atwater, an exit to Franklin St Eastbound, and an entrance from Franklin St Westbound.”
Yes, a U-turn at the end of the freeway!
According to MDOT, this project was “to promote economic growth in downtown Detroit” though we’re not sure how.
They identified key community issues such as “bicyclists” and “safety for the drivers as well as the pedestrians and bicyclists.” Just imagine how having a freeway at Atwater would have affected your biking and walking experience along the RiverWalk!
Of course much has changed since this was proposed, but especially at MDOT. And as a result, they’ve asked for this project to be deleted from the Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan. That deletion should be taken up by the SEMCOG General Assembly near the end of June.
Removing the rest of I-375?
A few years ago, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan supported a planning exercise for Detroit’s East Riverfront area. One topic was converting I-375 from a freeway to a boulevard surface street. The same was proposed for the I-75/Gratiot freeway exit.
This effort was led by Ian Lockwood of Glatting-Jackson who said people shouldn’t have an expectation of driving 55 miles an hour through your central business district.
The benefits of making the below grade freeway into a surface street are the added real estate and greatly improved bike, pedestrian, and even motorist mobility through this area. One can easily imagine the benefits of improved connections between Eastern Market, the stadium areas, central business district, and even the future light rail line.
Perhaps this could be a return of Hastings Street, the main strip for Detroit’s prominent black community which was removed to create the expressway.
Of course that freeway removal plan is nothing more than a plan right now, but…