A Detroit interstate 375 highway whose construction devastated two historically Black neighborhoods will be turned into an urban boulevard — one of 26 major infrastructure projects that will be newly funded by the Biden administration. The U.S. Transportation Department has awarded $104.7 million to replace the one-mile I-375 freeway.
The highway’s construction in the 1950s and 1960s paved through two prosperous Black neighborhoods, displacing people, small businesses and churches. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has put the number of people displaced at 130,000.
The funding, aimed at spurring economic development, will go towards realigning the ramps near I-375, installing calming traffic measures and wider sidewalks as well as reconnecting neighborhood streets to the boulevard.
Interstate 375 comprises a short spur extending the Walter P. Chrysler Freeway south from I-75 to the Detroit Riverfront in Downtown Detroit. The six-lane freeway travels below grade between service streets to Jefferson Avenue, where it turns west and transitions into a surface boulevard at Beaubien Street. Unsigned Business Spur I-375 overlays Jefferson Avenue 0.167 miles west to Randolph Street by the GM Renaissance Center.
The United States planned more than 40,000 miles of interstate highways in the 1950s. Many like I-375 were routed through historically Black and poor neighborhoods.
The Transportation Department said on Thursday it would be awarding $1.5 billion for the 26 projects including I-375.
These include $150 million for a new toll road and port of entry facility in Mesa, California along the Mexican border, $110 million to redevelop one of the largest food distribution centers in the country in New York and $70 million to rehabilitate a more than 100-year-old railroad track in Chicago.