|Tag(s):||Environment, Delray, I-75, Detroit|
|Course:||“Environmental History in Detroit,” University of Michigan|
|Rating:||5 (2 votes)|
"Recommended location and design has been developed with full consideration given to existing and proposed land use, to urban renewal and industrial redevelopment projects and plans, and to all elements of the official Master Plan of the City of Detroit."
As the Wayne County Road Commission points out in its location study for the Fisher Freeway, Detroit's Master Plan had written off Delray, historically a mixed-use area and still home to several thousand working-class residents, as industrial. While it would be easy to say that this is why Delray was parceled off from Detroit as a whole, the location study does not connect any dots, or point any fingers. Instead it offers what has been clear in both the Master Plan of the City of Detroit and the Fisher Freeway Route Location Study: industry trumps all.
In the end, the recommended route from the Wayne County Road Commission would lead to the destruction of 1,954 residencies (including more than 400 multiple-family homes) and 33 industrial sites. The process of determining this route involved a massive effort to balance and divide a city, in order for the necessity of connectivity. Detroit was no longer growing, but the areas around it were. And they had resources to move. In the years prior to the construction of I-75 traffic jams were a major issue and the Ambassador Bridge was locked behind neighborhoods like Delray. The project was an effort to allow for the suburban commuters to enter the city, but also to facilitate the massive flow of resources through and into the inner city.
In the eyes of Detroit, the road was a necessity. But so was their industry, and Delray was front and center in the conflict of the two. What would happen was a balance that largely favored industry and avoided wealthier communities. Alternative proposals presented in the review show that while industry and residential were considered, residential uses were obviously given less weight. Not only this but Delray represented a path of least resistance. What could be defended as a somewhat natural divide, found itself in a relatively defenseless community. The people were largely poor, largely unable to put up a fight, and unable to move.
Industries along the river were largely unaffected by construction, as were the wealthier communities. The suburbs and industry, together the tax base, were aided by the additional connectivity. But the community of Delray suffered. The highway was the first major blow to the Delray community. Delray would face similar subjugation with a remodeled Waste Water Treatment, and to this day faces the challenge of industry over community. While the international bridge might not be the first strike against the Delray community, it may be the last.