Freeway maneuvers

Sometimes News Hits is so naive. We actually thought that local leaders might have sense enough to postpone plans to expand I-375. Silly us. We forgot to factor Mayor Dennis Archer into the equation.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), which is working on a regional transportation plan, originally voted to delay until October its consideration of the $78 million expansion of I-375. That postponement came after Detroit City Council members Maryann Mahaffey and Clyde Cleveland — both SEMCOG voting delegates — urged waiting until an environmental impact study is completed. They also argued that the highway expansion was designed in part to accommodate three casinos on the riverfront, but now it looks like only one — if that — will go there.

But just days after the initial vote, Archer wrote SEMCOG asking it to reconsider. He pointed out that the City Council already approved the project 6-to-1, adding that GM will benefit from it as well as other downtown development and that it is not tied to any casino.

That was all SEMCOG needed to take a second vote. After a good hour of debate, a short, plump woman uttered these sensible words during the public comment period: “If it ain’t rush hour, you can just about shoot a cannon up 375. I don’t think you need to do that much expansion for a rush-hour problem.”

But rush hour is precisely what concerns the mayor. After all, many of those traveling I-375 during peak times are GM employees. And when GM — or big business of any kind for that matter — talks, Archer listens. The group voted overwhelmingly to include the expansion in its regional plan, proving that when Archer talks, SEMCOG listens.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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