(CBS Detroit) — The State of Michigan is moving forward with plans to replace Interstate 375, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday.

Officials say the freeway will be replaced with an “urban boulevard to spur economic development and provide easier access between adjacent areas of Detroit.”

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The project will advance to the design phase this spring after the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) concluded its environmental review process after securing a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).

The FONSI is available on MDOT’s website and at the following locations:

  • Detroit Public Library, Main Branch, 5201 Woodward Ave., Detroit
  • Wayne County Community College District, 1001 W. Fort St., Detroit 

“With the conclusion of the environmental clearance phase, we will continue moving forward on the I-375 project,” Whitmer said. “As we continue getting things done on the roads, however, we must take a closer look at the unjust legacy of so many of our freeways.

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“This includes I-375, which paved through two prosperous Black neighborhoods decades ago, displacing 130,000 people, hundreds of small businesses, churches, and more. Now, we must build up our state’s infrastructure with equity at the core. While we cannot change the past, we must work harder to build a more just future, and that starts with listening to and engaging with the community, and taking deliberate steps to get this done right.”

The freeway was built more than 50 years ago, which impacted and demolished prominent Black neighborhoods such as Black Bottom and Paradise Valley. Officials say the new I-375 opened in 1964, constructed through Hasting Street, creating a barrier between the central business district in the city and neighborhoods to the east.

“As development has pushed east from downtown and west from Lafayette Park, the barrier that I-375 represents in our city has become even more apparent,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Removing the freeway ditch and replacing it with a street-level boulevard will unlock enormous development opportunities.

“it was Black residents and Black businesses that were hurt when Black Bottom was wiped out and they were displaced for the construction of this freeway. Black businesses today should benefit from the enormous development opportunities this project will create. The equity of who participates will be just as important as how the new boulevard ultimately will look.  We can replicate what we did up on Livernois when we worked with neighbors to reimagine that historic business district, which is now the city’s most vibrant and successful Black-owned business corridor.”

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