Update: SEMCOG Replies To Criticism Of I-94 And I-75 Widening

An official of the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) uses a conciliatory tone as he posts the regional agency's first comment on community opposition to I-94 and I-75 widening.

"Some of their information was outdated and just plain wrong," Carmine Palombo of SEMCOG writes in a blog post.

"At SEMCOG’s General Assembly meeting last Thursday, many people, including a number of young professionals, . . . gave reasons why they were not in agreement with the proposal to include the projects" in a Regional Transportation Plan, writes Carmine Palombo, head of transportation policy, in a blog post Monday.

He acknowledges that "many" valid criticisms were voiced "very well and with much passion."

They were thoroughly professional. I disagree with several of the points they made and some of their information was outdated and just plain wrong – but I also agreed with them on many of the key points that they made.

The policy director goes on to say, in effect, that SEMCOG gets what Midtown advocates say and already was supportive.

The recent influx of young people into Detroit is breathing new life into an old decaying city and it is wonderful to see. At the same time, I thought there was not the recognition that many of the things they were asking for – more walking and biking facilities, more and better public transit, reconstruction, not expansion of the existing system – is actually happening or is in progress. . . .

If done properly and with community input, [the projects] have potential to be a major part of the renaissance of Detroit and Southeast Michigan. . . . I believe MDOT will continue to work with the community and find ways to address many of the concerns that were raised at the meeting."

June 21 article:

State graphic shows I-94 now (top) and after widening in the area of 14th Street in Southwest Detroit.

Despite fierce opposition, SEMCOG Thursday overwhelmingly approved two controversial construction projects as part of a $2.65-billion plan to widen two Metro Detroit freeways.

According to Leonard Fleming in The Detroit News, more than 50 people spoke to the members of the Southeast Michigan Council of Government’s General Assembly, lambasting the plans to widen the 6.7-mile section on Interstate 94 in Detroit and an 18-mile stretch of I-75 in Oakland County.

They called it a waste of taxpayer money and said that future traffic patterns didn’t support the methodology of widening at what many termed the expense of other regional transportation projects in more than an hour of public comments.

"The action taken by SEMCOG will make these projects eligible for state and federal funding,” Fleming quotes SEMCOG's director as saying.

I-94 will go from six lanes to 10, with a two-lane service drive on each side. 

Read more:  SEMCOG blog

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