Sec. Buttigieg, Gov. Whitmer announce $105 million for I-375-boulevard conversion
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was in Detroit Thursday, Sept. 15, bearing gifts. The secretary joined Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, MDOT Director Paul Ajegba, and others to formally award MDOT a nearly $105 million Infrastructure for Rebuilding America (INFRA) grant to convert the recessed I-375 freeway into an urban boulevard, allowing for the reconnection of neighborhoods with the city’s central business district as well as cultural and sports venues.
This week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast features conversations with Zach Kolodin, director of the Michigan Infrastructure Office established by Gov. Whitmer earlier this year, and Jon Loree, MDOT’s I-375 project manager. First, Kolodin talks about his office’s role in overseeing all infrastructure, not just that related to transportation, and then shares his perspective on the I-375 announcement.
Loree explains the benefits and opportunities the grant will provide for the project and talks about his ongoing work in public involvement with corridor neighbors, business owners and myriad interested parties.
The project cost estimate is $270 million, with an additional $30 million anticipated for engineering costs. The INFRA grant will go toward construction and cover more than a third of that.
As Gov. Whitmer observed in her remarks, competition for the INFRA grants was fierce, meaning Michigan’s selection for the fourth-highest amount of all the awards signals the value the project will provide to the community.
With the grant, the project will be able to complete design and begin construction as soon as 2025, at least two years earlier than originally hoped. Work should be completed in 2028. Loree explains how design efforts are beginning and conversations and engagement continue on the future land use and community enhancements.
The project is taking an innovative approach to use the value of the excess property from the freeway-to-boulevard conversion for community enhancements to acknowledge and address historic environmental justice effects from the original freeway construction.