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SEMCOG meets today to discuss widening I-94 and I-75

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It's a safe bet you've experienced the congestion on I-94 or I-75.

It can get pretty bad during rush hour and it impacts thousands of people.

But is widening the highways worth the $4 billion cost estimate? Some people are saying no.

According to Khalil AlHajal at MLive, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) is meeting today to go over those highway proposals among others.

The meeting is at 4:30 pm at the Atheneum Suite Hotel in Greektown.

Also on the agenda is a plan that outlines the spending of $50 billion in federal and state transportation funds.

SEMCOG is an organization that brings together government leaders from St. Clair, Macomb, Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw, Wayne and Monroe Counties. They work to solve regional-level challenges, primarily those related to transportation, planning, regional growth, and environmental issues.

AlHajal detailed the I-94 and I-75 expansions:

Widening I-94 from Conner Street to I-96 in Detroit would take the stretch from six lanes to eight and cost about $2.7 billion in federal and state bond funds, including bridge work and reconstruction of the M-10 and I-75 interchanges, according to the plan. (View the full 2040 Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan here.) Adding a lane to I-75 between 8 Mile Road and M-59 in Oakland County, along with interchange improvements, would cost $1.3 billion in federal funds.

Those who oppose the proposed plan include the Ann Arbor City Council and the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. In fact, both government bodies passed resolutions opposing the expansion.

A coalition of organizations who oppose the expansion are holding a “Fix It First” rally before the meeting today.  The coalition includes Transportation Riders United, the Sierra Club, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, Detroit Sound Conservancy, Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength, and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council. 

AlHajal reports:

But organizers of the "Fix It First" rally opposing the plans want SEMCOG to "instead use spending exclusively for rehabilitation and maintenance of the region’s existing road capacity, which is already in disrepair." "These highway expansions, perceived by highway planners to benefit the region, would actually contribute towards its undoing," the coalition of groups, which often advocate for regional public transit projects, said in a statement. "The I-94 and I-75 expansions were initially conceived in the 1990s, when metro Detroit’s traffic and population were projected to grow indefinitely, and gas cost less than two dollars per gallon. SEMCOG now predicts that the region’s population and traffic levels will remain stable through 2040, but the two expansion projects remain on the books."

-Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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