Will 14-year I-75 project relieve congestion and improve safety?
The Michigan Department of Transportation began its reconstruction of I-75 in Oakland County today. The plan is estimated to take until 2030 and an estimated $1.3 billion.
Rob Morosi from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Nick Schroeck, director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic, joined us today to discuss the plan.
Morosi explained how the plan will change the highway.
“You will have a more modern I-75,” Morosi said. "You will have an I-75 that is now built to handle 21st century traffic, to handle the vehicles made in the 21st century.”
He said the highway was originally designed for slower cars and less traffic, which makes modernization necessary.
"You will have a more modern I-75. You will have an I-75 that is now built to handle 21st century traffic, to handle the vehicles made in the 21st century."
The plans will add more lanes to I-75, but Morosi said he’s not sure how the modifications will affect the highway.
“I don’t have that crystal ball," he said. "But this is what I do know: This section of I-75 has one of the highest crash rates that we have in the Metropolitan Detroit area, has a higher crash rate than a four-lane I-696, has a higher crash rate than a four-lane I-96.”
Morosi said most of the crashes come in dry conditions, which means most accidents are due to congestion.
Listen to the full interview with Morosi below to hear more about MDOT’s plan to reconstruct I-75.
But MDOT’s plan to modernize I-75 has drawn criticism from critics like Schroeck.
“The highway has been in its current form for many decades, so it does need to be modernized," he said. "The issue that I and other people have raised with this highway is also the expansion, adding lanes of traffic in either direction. There’s a real question of whether or not that additional road capacity is needed.”
"There's a real question of whether or not that additional road capacity is needed."
Schroeck said he is working to help planners find "the smartest ways to develop these highways for the future."
"And often times, that means not investing so much in expanded highways, but in maintenance - making sure they’re up to the highest design standards in the existing footprint, and then looking at things like transit," he said.
Some argue Michigan should prioritize public transit rather than invest in expanding and modernizing highways. But Schroeck believes investment in both is ideal.
“We need to have good public transit, and we also need to have good, reliable, safe bridges and all of that,” he said.
Listen to the full interview with Schroeck below to learn more about his critique of the I-75 project.
GUESTS Rob Morosi is with the Michigan Department of Transportation's Office of Communications. Nick Schroeck is director of the Transnational Environmental Law Clinic and an associate clinical professor at Wayne State University Law School.