The fate of Detroit’s Chrysler Freeway—the public considers alternatives

By Mary Ebeling

Recently SSTI reported on the possibility of the City of Detroit removing I-375, also named the Chrysler Freeway. Now a consultant team has released six alternatives for what might replace it. A lively conversation about the fate of this interstate spur—measuring just over one mile—has begun. Regardless of the chosen alternative, this project will shape how the revitalization of Detroit’s cultural, education, and arts district proceeds and is worthy of a rigorous public comment period and open discussion between the various stakeholders affected by the project.

Stakeholders in the city and state are working to select the best alternative that meets economic development, livability, and transportation needs into the foreseeable future. The six alternatives offer a menu of options from a simple rebuild of the existing freeway to adding bike lanes, bringing the freeway to grade, and fully converting the sunken freeway to a surface boulevard. The price tag for the various designs ranges from $50 to $80 million.

I-375 claims status as the shortest interstate highway in the State of Michigan. The portion of the highway under consideration for removal, south of Gratiot Avenue to the Detroit River, has much lower traffic volume than other portions of the Chrysler Freeway. In 2009, MDOT estimated the southern portion of the highway carried just over 14,000 vehicles per day, a traffic volume that can support conversion to a boulevard.

Mary Ebeling is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.