Proposed Detroit River bridge holds hope for Delray neighborhood

Residents, activists want economic boom from proposed span

Tom Greenwood/ The Detroit News

Detroit — Community leaders and elected officials joined forces Friday to press for the economic and environmental revival of southwest Detroit if the New International Trade Crossing is built in the Delray area.

UAW President Bob King; state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; and members of the Economic Alliance for Michigan, Delray Community Benefits Coalition and People’s Community Services spoke of the necessity of revitalizing southwest Detroit if a new bridge is built.

While Lansing debates the merits of a publicly funded span backed by Gov. Rick Snyder, there is concern from local officials and residents that they’ll get little in return for a proposed 160-acre bridge plaza, saying it would displace 257 homes (693 residents), 43 businesses and five churches.

And for that kind of impact, residents of Delray want investment in the community, replacement housing for displaced residents, home improvement funding and environmental cleanup.

But most of all, they want jobs.

“We all want investment, and we all want jobs,” King said. “But we want to do it in a way to benefit this community in the long run.”

The group also took a bus tour of southwest Detroit and Delray on Friday that showed what event sponsors described as the hope and despair of the area.

Riders saw acres of weedy, vacant lots, dozens of burned-out buildings, abandoned businesses, graffiti, litter and dumps.

But they also saw the success of businesses in Mexicantown, new townhouses near Ste. Anne’s de Detroit Church, an expanding health care center and a growing, hard-working minority population.

“When the bridge is built, we don’t want people crossing on it to look to the right and see poverty or to look to the left and see dumping and pollution,” Tlaib said. “We want them to see a vibrant, growing community.”