Plan to expand I-94 to 5 lanes in each direction in Detroit met with mixed emotion

Southeast Michigan Council of Governments expected to approve deal

By Roger Weber - Reporter

DETROIT - Two massive Detroit-area freeway re-construction projects costing more than $2.5 billion are expected to get the go-ahead Thursday afternoon.

In Oakland County, the plan involves reconstructing Interstate 75 from 8 Mile Road to M-59. That project would start in 2015.

In Detroit, the plan is to rebuild Interstate 94 from Interstate 96 to Conner Street starting next year, adding a lane in each direction.

"It's an old roadway. The last major pavement fix was in 1958," said Paul Tait, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments Executive Director.

The $1.8 billion dollar redo would also replace bridges, lengthen and relocate ramps, and build two continuous service lanes on each side.

The two projects together will cost more than $2.5 billion.

Critics of the project say it is a Trojan Horse.

"We absolutely support the reconstruction, but the expansion just isn't necessary in a time when gas prices are rising," said Joel Batterman who opposes the freeway project.

"Our roads are in pretty bad shape," said SEMCOG member Yousef Rabhi. "We should be using that money to fix up the roads we already have."

Supporters say the federal funds can only be used for freeways, not local roads or mass transit.

"To enhance the trade with Canada, particularly as the new bridge is built, we've got to improve that roadway," said Tait.

Some land acquisition will be needed for the I-94 project. If approved, the work would continue off and on until 2020.

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