June 8, 2014 at 6:06 pm

Plans for replacing or rebuilding I-375 in Detroit to be discussed at forum Thursday

The most expensive idea at $70 million to $80 million would keep the freeway, improve ramps and rebuild service drives and bridges, while connecting to the riverfront with bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. (MCCI)

Detroit — Six plans for replacing or rebuilding Interstate 375 in Detroit were released Sunday and are expected to stir debate about how best to spark development near downtown and Lafayette Park by changing one of the main access points into the eastern edge of downtown.

The six ideas, to be discussed at a public forum Thursday, include narrowing I-375, creating surface streets and bicycle/pedestrian pathways, and making a new connection to the east riverfront area. Projected costs run from $40 million to as high as $80 million.

One plan involves rebuilding the expressway as it is with a few improvements to the Monroe/Lafayette and East Jefferson/Larned ramps for about $60 million to $70 million, according to summaries of the plans.

Another alternative would transition the freeway into a surface street running south but shifted to the east side of the existing freeway. There would be a riverfront connection from Jefferson Avenue to Atwater Street as well as pedestrian improvements.

The proposal would free up 9.3 acres on the west side of the freeway for future development and cost $40 million to $50 million, according to the summary.

The most expensive idea at $70 million to $80 million would keep the freeway, improve the exit ramps, rebuild service drives and bridges, while creating a connection to the riverfront with bike lanes and pedestrian improvements. There also would be bike lanes on the northbound and southbound service drives.

The renderings of the proposal can be viewed here: (http://I375Detroit.com)

A Thursday meeting for public comment is scheduled for 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Eastern Market Shed 5, 2934 Russell St.

“We hope people will take this opportunity to review the designs prior to the public forum and come with questions and comments for the members of the I-375 team,” said Will Taminga, project director at Detroit Economic Growth Corp., in a statement.

The meeting will provide orientation sessions every two hours from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., the agency said.

The plans are expected to fuel debate about the future of the freeway and surrounding neighborhood because the mile-long I-375 freeway is one of the main ways to get into downtown Detroit. It runs on the eastern edge of downtown from Atwater to Interstate 75. It’s a key link to such areas as Greektown, Lafayette Park, Eastern Market and the baseball and football stadiums.

After the public comments, the proposals will be narrowed to two choices that will again be reviewed. The final choice will be revealed by late August.

The Downtown Development Authority, MDOT and Detroit Riverfront Conservancy have collaborated to study alternative plans that they hope might facilitate existing and future development in the area.

Because I-375 is part of the federal highway system, the Federal Highway Administration would have to grant permission to do the project.

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