Options proposed for Interstate 375

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Updated bridges. Bike paths. Green spaces near the Detroit riverfront. Better access to city hotspots.

Proposed plans to transform Interstate 375 in Detroit feature a host of ideas and concepts that could affect residents, pedestrians and motorists for years to come.

That’s why before plans progress on six alternatives being considered for the nearly two-mile stretch that connects downtown to Interstate 75, state and local officials sought input Wednesday night from those in the community affected most.

The Michigan Department of Transportation doesn’t expect construction to start before 2022, funding needs to be secured and other steps are necessary, said Kelby Wallace, its senior project manager.

But the group of options now on the table, which are subject to change, help shape plan for an aging thoroughfare that needs updates to address safety, congestion and other issues, he told the crowd.

“We’ve got to make a long-term decision,” Wallace said.

Wallace presented more about the alternatives during a town hall meeting that state Rep. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, hosted at Chrysler Elementary School, which is near the freeway.

As development downtown blossomed in recent years, the I-375 Alternatives Study worked to explore transportation infrastructure options to boost travel. Technical analyses, input from an advisory committee, public feedback and recommendations from a public agency-led group helped shaped the six alternatives, according to MDOT.

The next step is for MDOT to head into its study early next year, Wallace said. Federal officials require the department to review the environmental impact. Meanwhile, a public open house is tentatively scheduled for early next year.

The study aimed to define a “vibrant” entryway into downtown Detroit and the city’s riverfront while keeping in mind proposed development, MDOT said.

On Wednesday night, the residents and others who attended saw overviews for each of the alternatives.

Some of the plans included leaving property south of Jefferson open for other use, such as recreation or parks.

Resident Royce Gueringer voiced his support for the sixth alternative.

“I think it makes the best use of space,” he said. “It would bring in commercial and if you want to build residential on top I don’t think it would necessarily increase the amount of noise.”

While some of the attendees supported upgrading I-375, others worried about how any of the changes chosen might affect traffic, air quality, and their homes.

“There are some needs and we would like to see something corrected, but we are concerned about the quality of life issues,” said Regenia Simmons, who lives in Hyde Park. “We need to feel like we are part of what’s going on.”

Six options for I-375

■ Alternative one: Improving/widening the southbound off-ramps at Lafayette and Larned/East Jefferson, reconstruct mainline roads and rebuild a bridge. Estimated cost is $60 million to $70 million.

■ Alternative two: Incorporates changes in alternative one along with a “roadway extension from the Jefferson Avenue surface-level extending to Atwater Street to serve the East Riverfront area.” Bike lanes as well as landscape plantings and stormwater management would be added. Cost: $70 million to $80 million.

■ Alternative three: Freeway would transition to a surface street south of Lafayette, and include intersections at Larned and Jefferson. The stretch would continue through Jefferson to Atwater, with two lanes in each direction. The freeway part would be shifted to the west. Cost: between $55 million and $65 million.

■Alternative four: Eliminate service drives, transition freeway to a surface street with four lanes in each direction south of Gratiot, coming to an intersection near Clinton. The roadway would continue south of Jefferson to Atwater with two lanes in each direction. Estimated cost: $40 million to $50 million.

■ Alternative five: Includes surface road with four lanes in each direction from south of Gratiot but would be aligned along the west side. Stretch would continue south of Jefferson to Atwater while the northbound service drive becomes a two-way local access road. Cost: $45 million to $55 million.

■ The sixth alternative: Change the stretch south of Gratiot to two one-ways, aligned with existing service drives, with four lanes in each direction. It would continue south of Jefferson to Atwater. Estimated cost: $40 million to $50 million.