$25M pledged to overhaul Michigan Avenue in Detroit

‘These new concrete pavers will deliver that performance and the safety that comes along with it’

A stretch of one of Detroit's most historic roads is set to go from cobblestones to cutting edge. The feds are pledging $25 million to turn a two-mile stretch of Michigan Avenue from Woodward Avenue to I-96 into a truly connected roadway. It'll help self-driving cars communicate and make it safer for bike riders, walkers, and drivers.

DETROIT – A stretch of one of Detroit’s most historic roads is set to go from cobblestones to cutting edge.

The feds are pledging $25 million to turn a two-mile stretch of Michigan Avenue from Woodward Avenue to I-96 into a truly connected roadway. It’ll help self-driving cars communicate and make it safer for bike riders, walkers, and drivers.

The project is not cheap, as we’re talking about tens of millions of dollars to redo the iconic red brick stretch of road there; in what the state calls modernization, it will no doubt change the look and feel of this old-world road.

Corktown’s historic stretch of Michigan Avenue is getting a modern facelift; $50 million, including a new $25 million grant from the federal government to put in new lanes for autonomous vehicles, transit, bikers, and walkers.

But it would mean removing the iconic red brick road.

“I’m 68 years old,” said lifelong Detroiter Emory Reeves. “I’ve been here. I’m a Detroiter all my life, and I can remember and hear stories about when this was trolley cars running up and down here. (As a) matter of fact, you can still see some of the railings up and down here. So I would think it would be a travesty to pull up these bricks. It’s a part of our culture.”

Michelle Morton and Alex Baigent were visiting from Toronto and decided to take an e-bike and scooter ride through Corktown.

“As a tourist, I was really impressed with the stones on the road,” said Morton. “I thought it was very pretty, and also, the biking infrastructure is really great as it is.”

“I understand the need to try to get people out on bikes more, and maybe getting a smoother paved surface would be better than bricks, you know,” said Baigent.

The change is already on the rails with plans to keep Detroit at the front of the new car scene.

“That’s the way that transportation in this country is heading,” said MDOT Chief Infrastructure Officer Zachary Kolodin. “We’ll be at the cutting edge of it.”

Kolodin suggests not to worry about the look of Corktown as he says it will stay the same.

“These new concrete pavers will deliver that performance and the safety that comes along with it,” Kolodin said. “So, again, you’ll see them. They’ll still be there, and these new red pavers that have a higher level of performance will retain the historic look and feel of the road.”

The upgrade will have Detroit leaping into the future in one of the city’s most historic places.

What will essentially happen is the bricks will be carefully removed and then cleaned by MDOT, and then they’ll be placed around Corktown in various places and in different uses to keep them in the neighborhood.

After that, red concrete pavers will be put down as the changes to the road are made, including the lane for self-driving cars.


About the Authors:

Grant comes to Local 4 from Oklahoma City. He joins the news team as co-anchor of Local 4 News Today weekend mornings and is a general assignment reporter.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.