Flint, MI — A study by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) determined a “reduced footprint freeway” design is preferred for reconstructing a segment of Interstate 475, but cost may limit how much of the design becomes reality for Flint.

The study reviewed a section of the interstate from Bristol Road to Carpenter Road, portions of which led to the destruction of predominantly Black and immigrant neighborhoods in Flint when the highway was first built in the late 1960s and early 70s.

The study process solicited feedback on proposed redesigns from the Flint community over multiple public meetings and input sessions in 2021 and 2022. Now, according to the study’s results, a “reduced footprint freeway alternative” is the preferred method of rebuilding I-475 through downtown Flint.

Among other things, the reduced footprint design would take the freeway down from six lanes to four, remove some of the segment’s underutilized ramps and service lanes, and create vertical retaining walls instead of I-475’s currently sloped sides.

Image of a cross section of a proposed reduced footprint freeway design for Interstate 475, which runs through Flint, Mich. (Image courtesy Michigan Department of Transportation)

While MDOT acknowledged the Flint community’s preference, in publishing the study results MDOT Director Bradley Weiferech wrote that “implementing all aspects” of the proposed design, which also includes constructing new pedestrian bridges, is expected to “more than double” construction costs from $300 million to over $700 million.

Weiferech said his department is therefore seeking more funding while evaluating which items in the design “have the largest benefits for community connectivity.”

To that end, MDOT is continuing to elicit feedback on the design plan and will be hosting a virtual Q&A session with the public on Thursday, Oct. 5, 2023, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Public comments can be submitted prior to the session using this online comment form or by phone or email to Monica Monsma of MDOT’s Environmental Services Section.

Monsma can be reached at: MonsmaM@Michigan.gov or 517-335-4381.

In closing his letter on the study’s outcomes, Weiferech called the study “the first step in a process to rebuild the I-475 corridor in a manner that reflects community values,” adding that “if we work together … we will find ways to reach better outcomes for all.”

Kate is Flint Beat's associate editor. She joined the team as a corps member of Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues....