Should I-375 Become A Boulevard? Freeway Makes CNU’s “Freeways Without Futures” List

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Turning I-375 in downtown Detroit has popped up in the news again, thanks to a new list put out by the Congress for the New Urbanism of 10 “Freeways without Futures” for 2017.

The spur was built in 1959 and now stands as a physical divide between the Central Business District and Lafayette Park neighborhoods.

The project (along with the rest of the rebuild of Lafayette Park) meant the eradication of the Detroit’s historic Black Bottom community, as well as the culturally and commercially significant Hastings Street. That razed project 350 businesses from the black neighborhood as well as countless other homes.

A number of buildings were removed for the massive widening of Jefferson Avenue to accommodate the off ramps of the new I-375.

Today, even though Detroit is dominated by cars and a recent proposal for regional transit has bit the dust (and there’s little interest among suburban leaders to revive it at this point), the Congress for New Urbanism talks about how freeways, originally a program to encourage the revitalization of major cities, ended up being key in encouraging their blight and disinvestment.

It’s important to note that I-375 also made the CNU list in 2014 and this idea has been stalled for years. Below you’ll see a rendering of how a boulevard might be constructed where the sunken freeway is now.

Annual daily trips on I-375 have decreased to approximately 80,000 vehicles at its north end and only 15,000 vehicles at the south, according to Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

It’s interesting to think about the opportunities a remake of the space around I-375 could open up. Per CNU:

All six alternatives are on the table — including a boulevard that would better connect the rapidly redeveloping east riverfront district — and as the re-emergence of downtown Detroit continues, the fate of Interstate 375 will only become more and more crucial.

Your thoughts? What would you like seen done with I-375?

  • Transform it into a water way lined with restaurants and bars ,water taxis, non motorized pedestrian transportation,.

  • Rename it Hastings Street and give it back to the Black and Jewish community from which it was taken with an apology and federal funding to make the changes they want to see happen.

    Freeways can be good dividers between neighborhoods when they serve different purposes – like a residential neighborhood and a commercial district, so they might want to keep it as a divider. Where as 75 between the stadium and new arena seems to be a problem – its not like walking over a beautiful river – this should be covered with a park. The Lodge divides Corktown and what is quickly becoming a densely packed commercial area again. I’d say this is a good thing, but at Fort where it divides a one commercial area from another this issue needs to be address. As for Lafayette, I’d think they’d want to keep the divide – not a wall just a demarcation line. But that doesn’t have to be a freeway – and regardless of what they do it should be renamed Hastings and restitution to the community made.

  • Get rid of it, please! These freeways have served two main purposes: enabling and encouraging flight to the suburbs and the gutting of our cities, and the physical destruction and separation of neighborhoods and businesses by the construction of the roads and all their on and of ramps, drainage, etc.
    It is OK if it takes a few more minutes to get downtown from the suburbs. There is no Comstitutional right to have quick and easy access and egress from a city’s downtown for those who opt to life elsewhere. Freeways are neighborhood killers, commercial district killers….let’s get rid of as many of the, as possible from our city.

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