LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday, Nov. 24 asked the Biden administration for federal funding to replace Interstate 375, a 1-mile depressed freeway in Detroit that was built by demolishing Black neighborhoods 60 years ago.

The state wants to convert the highway, which connects I-75 directly to Jefferson Avenue, to a six-lane boulevard at street level.

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The $1 trillion U.S. infrastructure law enacted last week includes $1 billion to reconnect communities that were divided to make room for freeways. Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, two predominantly African American neighborhoods, were razed in the late 1950s and early 1960s to build I-375, which created a barrier between the downtown and neighborhoods to the east.

Whitmer, in a letter inviting Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to join her to tour the area, called the I-375 improvement project a “perfect candidate” for the new federal Reconnecting Communities program. Construction is not planned to start until 2027, after redesign work is complete.

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The governor said I-375 — which opened in 1964 — the interchange with I-75 and various bridges are outdated and in need of modernization.

“Now, nearly three generations later, we have an opportunity to eliminate this obstacle and provide easier access to better jobs, services, and quality of life to the residents of adjacent areas of persistent poverty,” she wrote.

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