Detroiters review I-94 revamp plans

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

As a native Detroiter, Dennis Brown long has noted Interstate 94’s condition.

So when the Michigan Department of Transportation hosted a meeting Wednesday night to update the public on a planned modernization project for the heavily traveled freeway in Detroit, he was eager to learn more about possible improvements.

“You can get an idea of what it will look like,” Brown said while standing near project renderings at Detroit’s Cathedral Church of St. Paul. “It’s something that’s needed. I’ll really be looking forward to seeing this.”

He and other area residents had a chance to offer feedback on proposed changes to the modernization project, which aims to overhaul nearly seven miles of the interstate between Conner Avenue and Interstate 96 starting as early as 2019. Upgrades include updating utility and bridge replacement, enhancing freeway interchanges and erecting an additional freeway lane.

An update is needed, MDOT officials have said, since the freeway was built between 1947 and 1959.

State officials have estimated upgrades could cost nearly $3 billion and take nearly 20 years. Fixes were identified as part of an environmental study that started in the 1990s and ended in 2005. That was the year the Federal Highway Administration issued a record of decision that approved the reconstruction and paved the way for an update, MDOT said.

Drawing on input from public meetings in 2015, a team of Detroit officials and MDOT this year evaluated proposed modifications. Those include community connector bridges at Second Avenue and Cass and Conner; green spaces; buffered bike lanes; wider sidewalks; and using more of the local street system to minimize impact to neighborhood and historic sites.

Gaining the community’s perspective on the proposals helps complete the project design, MDOT spokesman Rob Morosi said. “We want to make sure this fits into the future vision for the city.”

At the church Wednesday, more than 40 people pored over poster boards and layouts showing features of the project, from corridor connectivity to right-of-ways. Some attendees peppered MDOT staff and consultants with questions or scribbled suggestions on neon note papers.

Kenny Andejeski, who lives in the Virginia Park area, was excited to learn about plans to convert some pedestrian bridges into “complete street connections” allowing access by car, bus, biking and walking.

“I think the concept will really encourage people to explore,” he said.

Another project meeting is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Thursday at Wayne County Community College District Eastern Campus, 5901 Conner Ave., Detroit. For information: