Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Whitmer requests federal funds to fix the damn I-375, citing its racist legacy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 24, 2021 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Detroit's I-375 in 2007. - GAB482, FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • gab482, Flickr Creative Commons
  • Detroit's I-375 in 2007.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer famously campaigned to "fix the damn roads," and now she's calling on the federal government to help right the wrongs of one of Detroit's most infamous highways.

Whitmer sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday requesting Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to modernize Detroit's I-375 and I-75/I-375 interchange.

In the letter, Whitmer notes that I-375 was built in the late 1950s and early '60s through Hastings Street, the central business district that bridged the communities of the predominantly Black districts of Black Bottom and Paradise Valley.

"As we build up our roads and bridges, we also have to take a closer look at the unjust legacy of so many of our freeways, including I-375 and the I-75/ I-375 Interchange, that were built decades ago by demolishing Black neighborhoods, splitting up key economic areas, and decreasing connectivity between families, communities, and small businesses," Whitmer said in a statement.

"After the passage of the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, we can build up local roads and bridges the right way across Michigan, bringing communities together and bridging economic divides by creating thousands of good-paying jobs for Michiganders and ensuring small businesses, downtowns, and neighborhoods have high-quality, reliable infrastructure to rely on as we usher in a new era of prosperity for our state," Whitmer wrote.

Buttigieg previously called for $1 billion to remedy racial inequities in the nation's highway infrastructure. The racist legacy of the interstate highway system has been under scrutiny in recent years. Earlier this year, The New York Times published a photo-heavy feature on the subject, looking at how highway projects destroyed Black communities across the nation.

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