Critics Charge I-94 Widening Will Destroy Midtown; Rally Set Thursday
Critics of a proposal to widen I-94 through Midtown will gather Thursday afternoon as a regional planning group considers the sweeping project from MDOT.
Opponents plan a 3 p.m. rally outside the Atheneum Suite Hotel in Greektown, where SEMCOG members will meet at 4:30 to vote on a Regional Transportation Plan that includes the highway expansion, according to Tommy O'Flynn, a University of Michigan graduate student who lives in the Fourth Street neighborhood and develops real estate in Midtown.
He explains his concerns in a commentary at model D:
The expressway, which already provides a substantial barrier to economic development in New Center, would be widened from six lanes to 10. In addition, a two-lane continuous service drive would be added in each direction. In total, the expressway would grow from six lanes to 14 lanes in width.
While this may enable more cars to drive straight through Detroit, it actually makes it more difficult for Detroiters to get around. In total, eleven freeway crossings will be demolished and not replaced as part of this project. Examples of the crossings to be removed include the Third Street bridge over I-94, the John R bridge over I-94, and the Canfield pedestrian bridge that crosses M-10 near the I-94 interchange. . . .
At a time when Michigan’s roads are crumbling, why would we invest in additional freeway capacity? Detroit’s population has fallen substantially since 1994 when this project was initially conceived. New freeway capacity is not needed or being requested by the city’s residents. . . .
Not only is the I-94 expansion project an extraordinary misuse of taxpayer money, it also threatens the livability of Midtown, one of the great success stories of Detroit’s comeback. Midtown residents – myself included – are attracted to a walkable environment where we can get to work, buy groceries, and go out without needing to use a car.
A project video from MDOT is below.